By Gerry Barker
Posted March 28, 2016
The 2015 Sunshine list of public employees earning more than $100,000 reveals startling information about the very people whom we trust to prudently manage the city’s business.
The 2015 Guelph Sunshine List contains the salaries of the highest-paid Guelph staff senior managers, comparing the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Fasten your seat belts people; this is going to be a shocker.
Let’s start with the Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert. Her salary in 2013 was $204,805. In 2014, she received a 2.35 per cent increase raising her salary to $219,657. In 2015 the CAO received a 17.11 per cent increase taking her salary to $257,248 plus taxable benefits of more than $6,500. This amounted to an additional $37,591 last year,
Since joining the city staff in 2008, Ms. Pappert has more than doubled her salary. Don’t forget, we paid her an additional $20,000 to move from Waterloo to Guelph.
Either Ms. Pappert is a superstar when negotiating her salary and benefits, or the 13 individuals on council had a brain cramp when they approved it in the March 25, 2015 budget. That is the first one prepared by the new council and it included a 3.98 per cent increase in property taxes. Now we know why.
Whatever prompted city council to grant that increase? It occurred in the year following the election of a new Mayor and council. Because such matters are improperly discussed in closed session, regardless, the new council approved that increase and more to Pappert’s deputies,
What were they thinking? Did the majority bloc of seven on council use their votes to ram it through? This smells to high heaven of a payback for services rendered in the name of the former Farbridge administration.
It is now apparent that what they did for themselves ended up doing it to us.
Still unconvinced? There’s more …
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO), Mark Amorosi in three reporting years, had his salary with the city increased by 18.31 per cent. The biggest jump was in 2015 when he received a 14.70 per cent increase from $182,761 in 2014 to $209,629 in 2015. That’s an increase of $26,868 in one year.
Keep in mind that Amorosi is DCAO of corporate issues. This includes overseeing salaries and collective bargaining negotiations. He is also in charge of finance and during his term of responsibility from November 2014, Guelph has had two general managers of finance, both of whom are gone.
One would presume that being in charge of two vital departments of the city, that Amorosi would be careful with the public’s money. He was careful all right, he helped himself to a $26,868 raise in salary less than four months after being appointed DCAO. It will be known as the day of the payback by the outgoing Farbridge administration
But there is more …
DCAO Derrick Thomson, a man who has been on the job for little over two years, received a 19.48 per cent increase, taking his salary in 2015 to $207,554. That’s an increase of $33,834 in one year.
Former DCAO Al Horsman left the city last August to become Chief Administrative Officer in Sault Ste Marie. Horsman was the last Chief Financial Officer of the city. He was switched to environmental services, planning and engineering in the November 2014 senior management shuffle following the retirement of Janet Laird and Derek McCaughan. It didn’t take Horsman long to figure out what had happened to him. He left and got a better job.
How the senior staff retained their power
It was a move made just weeks after the defeat of the mayor and some of her council but before the new administration under Cam Guthrie was able to take over. The excuse given by Ms. Pappert was to reduce costs by having only four senior officers instead of the five executive directors. Along with the reorganization in November 2014, there was an adjustment to reflect new responsibilities.
But not one of the three senior managers was assigned new responsibilities to justify the new designations. Two, Amorosi and Thomson, are doing the same job today as they did before their appointment as DCAO’s.
Has CAO Ann Pappert’s job description changed to justify a salary increase of $37,591 in one year?
But how do you justify three key managerial salary increases of 17.11 per cent, (Pappert), 14.70 per cent (Amorosi), and 19.48 per cent (Thomson)?
Even more important, what is council awarding them for 2016? We won’t find that out until this time next year.
This is a gross misuse of public money. The people have no way of knowing, let alone understanding, the process that allows these excessive increases. It’s all done behind closed doors on the premise that it is a negotiation or a personal matter. The theory is this allows such matters to be discussed in closed session.
It is definitely not a personal matter as it concerns spending public money. Also the test of negotiating a new contract remains in the public domain because it’s our money.
Closed sessions are making a mockery of democracy
These closed sessions are mostly used to protect the council and staff from public outcry of important issues that should be discussed in open council. The Corporation of the City of Guelph is not a private corporation. It is one in which the citizens are the shareholders and are being denied access to vital discussion, particularly financial matters.
Can anyone imagine the public reaction if these salary increases had been announced to the public before the 2015 budget approval?
Who conducts the performance reviews of these managers? This is always the basis of negotiating increases in pay and benefits. Why doesn’t the city financial department release the nature and amount of benefits paid to these managers?
This is worse than the $23 million cost overrun of the Urbacon debacle. Rewarding the same people who were involved in that 2008 decision, to fire the former general contractor of the new city hall and provincial courthouse is insanity.
Does anyone elected or, on staff, realize the mess that these increases impact on the future liability to the city?
The Farbridge regime is being rewarded for creating a growing, unchecked, employee liability. All three of these people, plus city clerk Stephen O’Brien, were hired by the former administration.
Our city has been held hostage for too long
The city continues to be held hostage by a group of seven Farbridge progressives on council. They don’t care about what the citizens think, but spout the line that their excessive spending, are really “investments.”
This has to be the greatest insider case of abuse of the city’s treasury in living memory. Mayor Guthrie was elected to keep property taxes to the level of the Consumer Price index. In 2015 it was just under 2 per cent.
His council had to approve these increases so the ball is in his court. But now he needs live support by the public to regain control of council and the city.
The giant questions remains: Will council renew CAO Ann Pappert’s contract, or not? There is ample evidence that her five-year performance has been less than satisfactory. It definitely does not warrant a 17.11 per cent increase in salary.
The best guess is when the public knows about these salary increases; there will be a groundswell of outrage that, predictably, this city has ever witnessed.
It is now up to the citizens to demonstrate their opposition and demand recourse. Contacting their council representative to correct this development is a good first step.
We cannot roll back the 2015 senior management salary figures but we certainly can influence council to reconsider the 2016 salary levels across the board.
It is incredibly ironic that those city employees, covered by collective bargaining agreements, will be as outraged as the people over these excessive salary increases paid to senior management.