What did senior city management do to deserve these huge salary increases?

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.

 

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20 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

20 responses to “What did senior city management do to deserve these huge salary increases?

  1. Rena

    Every taxpayer in the City should be outraged and appalled by this outrageous abuse of our tax dollars.

  2. craig dool

    The problem is that no one has any pills in this city to challenge this. Everyone wants to complain but no one wants to ripple the tide in fear of the consequences. As for my generation, (millennials) they are screwed for years to come.. this city has become a money sucking pit and with the current situations at hand with lawsuits and public slaughtering of wages and mismanagement of funds there is only one outcome until the bottom falls out. With housing exponentially increasing along with taxes, eventually wages will not keep up and this house of cards will collapse. Do not be shocked to see local businesses start to move elsewhere or shut down due to lack of funds or simply being run over by expense. I love my city but enough is enough

  3. boomer828

    As always the city leads the way in writing cheques they can’t cash. The arrogance of these people is hard to understand. Far be it for them to take a moment to drive around the city and see how some people live. They should be ashamed and I agree with Craig. Someone has to yell STOP! It’s out of control. Pappert had NO experience at her position when she took it over yet she gets increases like that? Really? The thought of the fact we paid over 20 grand to move her here disgusts me as well. As far as driving around the town to see how other people are living…bad idea. They won’t know their way around because most of the top heavy salaries are being paid to people NOT form our city. DISGUSTING.

    • Boomer828: Thought I’d pass along a quote taken from the city’s website three years ago, “Under the clause,’reflective of the partnership’ (between council and staff), here is the following statement: Senior management consists of skilled management professionals and are treated as partners in governance.”

      This declaration sums up the pickle we are now in enduring these outrageous salary increases awarded a year ago and covered up until now.It took a provincial 2015 Sunshine List of those earning $100,000 a year or more by the province to reveal this cash grab without authentication. There were nine councilors, on March 25, 2015 who voted for the 2015 budget that had to include these increases. So much for a partnership between council and staff. This was an inside job without parallel in this city’s history.

  4. Glen

    Given the lack of transparency of the carryings on in the Carden Street asylum on the Speed River, is it any surprise that the inmates plunder the cash register to give themselves outlandish salary increases?

  5. Andre

    Can we see the job description of each employee? I’m assuming most of these jobs require a masters education at the minimum? I thought that was one of Farbridge’s ideas to build a better educated and qualified workforce. On linkedin it shows Pappert and Amorosi each have a masters degree, but Thomson has no formal university education listed? How can a guy with no university degree get paid that much money? doesn’t education factor in to how a job is compensated? I’d like see to how the justify this compensation – especially since its supposed to be an educated workforce we have. Something is wrong here.

  6. geo

    Obscene. Cam Guthrie where the hell are you!

  7. wendy

    Cam’s treading water with seven people standing on his head.

  8. wendy

    Waterloo’s CAO makes 196,925. Kitchener’s CAO makes 213, 029. Carla Ladd, who is CAO in Barrie, makes 241,505. But she is CAO there for 5 yrs, and previously was Kitchener CAO for 7 yrs.

  9. Tony

    Wendy you cant compare the salaries from Guelph to other COMPARABLE cities. Only city staff and councilors are allowed to do that and ONLY when it shows favourably to what they want. There have been numerous times where the numbers have shown unfavourably for multiple city departments, user fees, and taxes. Only to be dismissed with a wave of the hand or a off the cuff remark.

    • Tony: The salaries of staff are in the public remain, i.e. the right of the public to know. Your point is well taken because all this happens behind closed doors. Did we have to wait a year to find out what those increases to senior staff were? They betrayed the public trust.

  10. Doak McCraney

    nowhere I know of in Guelph are corporations dolling out increases of this nature to senior management ….this is a crisis and should and cannot continue …the province has nicely applied a carbon tax on gasoline as the war on cars continues ..July 1st your good used vehicles will be potentially pulled off the road for enhanced safety requirements …Electricity due to subsidies for wind and solar will continue to drive up ontarios electricity Trudeaus team will likely empose further taxes as there spending spree begins..Guelph police renovations who knows where that will end ..And our city keeps bumping up taxes ..The cost for living will be out of reach really soon for all..Sunny Days sunny Ways ..

  11. sifad

    So, okay, we are outraged to say the least! I guess when the minimum wage goes up in October they’ll vote to give themselves another boost in salary- behind closed doors, of course! Well, my left foot!!! I read tonight that the single homeowner is going to have another download of taxes to make up for the reduction of taxes that the commercial industry and multi-residential properties pay, to make it more inviting to locate in Guelph. And Coun. Bob Bell had the “bills” to say “It is our duty to be fair, rather than cater to our electors.” Seriously?? Electors ?? You remember those words next election Mr. Bell. because you will get a very rude awakening from those Electors that you do not want to “cater to”!!! It is becoming a very horrible place to live in, our Guelph, and having been in the same residence since 1976, taxes have risen from 752.00 ( including the water) per year, to over 3200.00 per year without the water factor. This information has to get out to the masses and not just here or in the Tribune. How, besides word of mouth do we get citizens mad enough to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”
    PS- Fabulous letter to the editor last week Gerry!!

  12. bostoncollie

    Looking forward to your column on this Gerry
    http://www.guelphtribune.ca/news-story/6410001-city-dumps-staff-over-failed-bid-to-profit-from-michigan-recyclables/
    The biggest innovation at the waste centre is how they make dollars disappear.

  13. Councillor Mike Salisbury sent this email to a citizen:

    “Relying on GRG for information on what’s happening at City Hall is akin to getting investment advice from a Ouija board. Best case scenario Gerry Barker has a robust imagination and a flare to fantasy satire … worst case scenario (and what I personally fear) the authors of the site are fanatic sociopaths with an axe to grind and a penchant for online bullying, and borderline hate speech.

    “Facts” regarding pay increases (and prettty much anything else they write) is to total horseshit. Please forgive my strong language but the ongoing nonsense emanating from GRG is so virile I can no longer politiely keep quiet or waste time disproving their nonsense.”

    Response by Gerry Barker: Tell us Mike when did you last see the GrassRoots Guelph website or any commentary? You are shooting at the wrong target because GRG went into hiatus15 months ago.

    Your real target is guelphspeaks.ca that revealed the huge increases given to three senior managers in 2015. You voted for those excessive increases. One can assume that you are in favour of giving 17, 14 and 19 per cent increases for senior managers in a single year.

    When you call someone a “fanatic sociopath” in an email, you’d better be sure that its true. The only defence for libel is the truth. For your own sake and reputation, you’d better apologize sooner than later.

    Instead of moaning about an organization that is inactive, carelessly attacking the editor of the blog breaking the story that you described as horseshit. I stand by the story and the facts therein. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

    When are you progressives going to get over the defeat of Karen Farbridge and work for the betterment of all citizens?

    Breaking news: Mike Salisbury apologized to the me this afternoon and his apology was accepted.

  14. wendy

    wow! Those are some heavy accusations from Councillor Salisbury. Can he be more specific about the misinformation he’s referring to? Fanatic sociopaths huh. How exactly is that, and “borderline hate speech” quantified, in his fearful mind?

  15. wendy

    Took under one minute to search the sunshine list from 2015 : Ann Pappert: 257, 248 and from 2014: Ann Pappert: 219,657. Just running Gerry’s numbers through the fact checker – no ouija board required.

  16. geo

    Mike Salisbury. Why on earth did you vote that timbit back in Ward 4?

  17. geo

    Guelph senior staff compare their salaries to other Municipalities till they find some where the salaries are higher, then boost their pay to match. Now other Municipalities will look at Guelph’s salaries and boost theirs to match. It’s called the merrygoround of money and this way job performance and what the Municipality can afford never have to enter the equation.
    Public sector unions do exactly the same thing when they take their employer to arbitration.
    Can’t wait to see how much more were going to have to pay firefighters.

  18. sifad

    In the K-W Record today, April 1/16, some of the municipal salaries were disclosed. These salaries include benefits from regional council and stipends from public boards such as GRCA and the Police Board. Now, Regional Chair Ken Seiling makes $184,950.00 and he is the highest paid. Kitchener Mayor makes $164,843.00, Waterloo Mayor makes $162,096.00,Cambridge Mayor makes $146,224.00 It does continue on. Sort of makes you wonder how our councilors justify their wage increases? This is really a travesty and has got to stop!

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