Posted April 1, 2014
The full scope of the Sunshine List of those public employees earning more than $100,000 a year has been published by the province. You can see the whole list of names at: www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/pssd/. The city finance department produced these figures mandated by the province.
Of the city employees list, the top earner was Chief Administration Officer Ann Pappert who made $214,605.59 in 2013 plus taxable benefits of $6,3217.28. The taxable benefit number seems puzzling given that she received a moving allowance of $20,000 to move from Waterloo to Guelph. Normally the cost of such a short-range move would average $10,000 depending on the size and number of household goods.
She could have had options including rolling the money over to an RRSP if the Canada Revenue Agency would allow her to do it. This would save her being taxed provided she had room in her RRSP account.
If that’s what she did, and it is legal, the taxpayers of Guelph added $20,000 to her retirement accounts and she received a deduction for the extra contribution. That’s a great double header!
You cannot blame Ms. Pappert for this largess. Most members of council approved it. The irony is that of the 12 members of council, who are paid part-time wages annually of $30,000 for work that has morphed into almost a full-time job. Is there something wrong with this picture?
The number of city employees earning more than $100,000 grew from 178 in 2012 to 200 in 2013. That’s a 12.3 per cent increase. Not included were 55 police officers bumping over the $100,000 benchmark
Down the road, the Sunshine list for the University of Guelph spiked at 753 staff, declining from 787 in 2012. Of course the University is facing a $34 million operating budget deficit so austerity measures have contributed to the decrease in Sunshine staff.
But the real wake-up call comes from Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “People working outside of government in Real Ontario are scrambling for every dime.” He further stated more and more public workers are working in jobs that do not warrant “six-figure salaries.”
Thomas said that competition for students and staff between universities, hospitals and other public institutions, continually drives up salaries, wages and benefits. “ But they are all funded by the same government, which is funded from taxes and that’s us.”
In Guelph, this process is almost entirely in the hands of senior staff. Then council rubber-stamps their recommendations.
Now we see the administration introducing measures to convince the citizens they are running a tight ship.
Witness the speculation story published in the Mercury that the city would have a $716,000 budget surplus for 2013. It was an unaudited figure. Then the ads in the papers stated the city was operating an open government.
These are calculated moves to present a positive picture of the seven-year train wreck of administration mismanagement, excessive spending, soaring taxes and lies by omission.
As the saying goes: “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
FOOTNOTE: GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) is inviting citizens to a special meeting Wednesday April 16 to meet Candice Malcolm, Ontario Executive Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
The CTF produced a report last summer about how 20 Ontario cities were controlling their employee costs, particularly the growing number of those earning more than $100,0000 a year. The study showed that Guelph ranked 18th out of 20 managing to keep those costs under control.
The breakfast meeting is being held at the Guelph Country Club on Woodlawn Ave. east of Woolwich St., starting at 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. Breakfast in included and the charge is $18 in advance of the event or $25 at the door. For additional information contact Rena at 519 837 4010.
Your attendance will not only be informative but you will meet many fellow citizens eager to support GRG.
Hope to see you there.