The truth about Ann Pappert’s performance as Guelph’s CAO

By Gerry Barker

Posted April 4, 2016

The 2015 salary reported this week showed that Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert, received a $37,591 increase in 2015. This increase was 17.11 per cent more than her previous base salary of $219,657 earned in 2014. For the past year, Ms. Pappert has been paid $257,248.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) Mark Amorosi, explained that the payment to Ms. Pappert was discussed in closed session prior to the approval of the 2015 budget, March 25, 2015.

So, who knew about this 17.11 per cent increase? There was DACO Mark Amorosi as head of human resources and finance and who received a 14.7 per cent increase; DACO Derrick Thomson, who received a whopping 19.48 per cent increase; the 13 members of council including the Mayor, City Clerk Stephen O’Brien plus some administrative assistants who had to know for logistic purposes.

Not one of those people revealed the increases on the grounds the decision was made in closed session. It took a year for the public to know the results of those secret meetings that awarded the huge base salary increases. The news came from the 2015 Ontario Sunshine List published annually in March, a year after the fact.

This is a pure example of the lengths this administration will go to protect its own interests. And it is happening regularly when the public is denied information to which they have the right to know. It is the people’s money.

But let’s examine the performance of Ms. Pappert that led to this clandestine decision made a year ago. Keep in mind that the buck stops with Ann Pappert as the top staff manager. When there are mistakes or misjudgment, she must accept responsibility. Here are a few:

The Bruce Poole firing and subsequent $1 million lawsuit

The CAO had to approve the firing of Bruce Poole, the chief building inspector for 20 years because he warned that he would charge the city for not complying with the Building Codes Act. The charge was that the city was not taking out building permits on its own projects. If anyone would know about this, it would be the Chief Building Inspector.

The $2.6 million loss by waste management importing Detroit’s recyclables

This loss was recently revealed because the Rizzo Brothers in Detroit failed to supply 100 per cent of suitable recyclable materials and the ratio fell to 64 per cent. The material that was unusable was shipped to the landfill contracted by the city. Two former waste management staffers resigned in the fall, DCAO Al Horsman and General Manager Dean Wyman, who negotiated the deal with the Rizzo Brothers.

Telling the public the $8.96 million Urbacon settlement would not affect property taxes

Ms. Pappert made that statement following the Urbacon settlement in September 2014. What she did not fully explain was that the $8.96 million was taken from three unrelated reserve funds. She said the city would replenish these reserves by paying $900,000 a year for five years. Coun. Karl Wettstein moved to reduce that to $500,000 in the 2015 budget. Since then the staff has not reported how the reserves will be repaid, if ever.

Presiding over property tax increases of 6.95 per cent in two budget cycles

In March and December of last year, council approved 6.95 per cent property tax increases. These sequential increases were approved by the majority of council on the advice of the staff, of which Ms. Pappert is in charge. These tax increases far exceeded the goal of Mayor Guthrie who promised to keep tax increase even with the Consumer Price Index that was 1.95 per cent in 2014. In 2015 the CPI was 1.1 per cent chuefly due to the lower price of fuel.

As CAO, supervising the costs of the new city hall overruns of $23 million

As CAO, Ms. Pappert was in charge of reviewing and reporting the actual cost of building the new city hall and provincial courthouse. There were charges left out including the money paid to two contractors to complete the work that Urbacon could not finish because the general contractor was ordered off the job. That action by the city led to the Urbacon lawsuit and the financial disaster that ensued.

Adding more than 100 permanent staff in her five years as CAO

 As CAO, Ms. Pappert is responsible for all facets of staff operations including the hiring of new staff. There is little factual reporting on staff increases to justify the needs of the operation. These occurred despite warnings of the future liability to the city to guarantee retiree’s staff pensions.

Being complicit in the Susan Watson election complaint that cost $11,400

The case of Ms. Watson was a futile attempt to challenge the election financial statement of ward 6 candidate, Glen Tolhurst, for accepting a donation from the citizen’s activist group, GrassRoots Guelph. The result was exoneration by auditor William Molson. The $11,400 costs were not charged to Ms. Watson so the taxpayers were stuck with the bill for Watson’s frivilous action.

Recommending the 4.15 per cent increases in water bills in 2015 and 2016

Every year the cost of water increases exponentially because the charges are made from water usage and not included in the property tax levy. These increases are made despite the drop in water consumption in the city. Now the plan is to levy citizens for storm water usage and maintenance involving hiring additional staff to run the operation.

As CAO, transferring certain operating costs to debt to reduce tax increases

This occurred and was included in the 2016 budget. It is a thinly disguised attempt to keep the operating costs of the city lower. It is a dumb decision that transfers an amount of annual operating costs to debt. This is further proof that Guelph’s operating and capital costs are 50 per cent higher than either Cambridge or Kitchener. It’s more voodoo financial management that future citizens will be paying for years to come

Hiring Andy Best to manage the “Open Government and Transparency Plan”

Andy Best is a leading political operative for former mayor Karen Farbridge. He received a contract job paying him $92,000 a year from the current council to manage the former administration’s lame and expensive plan to open government and transparency. Instead there are more closed sessions of council that ever before, such as awarding huge increases to three top managers in March 2015. Where was Best when that occurred?

As CEO of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc, she was in a conflict of interest

 The former Mayor chose her CAO to be Chief Executive Officer of the new Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. Ms. Pappert was the manager of this off-the-city books organization. The losses of the GMHI are staggering, as we are about to discover when the books will be opened under a re-organization plan. The reason is the spending by the Envida Corporation to carry out the former mayor’s plan to install geo-thermal heating and cooling to downtown buildings and the Hanlon Business Park. It has the sexy handle of the Community Energy Initiative. Trouble is almost all of the funding is coming from Guelph Hydro. That means the citizens are indirectly funding this hangover from a defeated mayor.

Do you still think that CAO Ann Pappert deserved a $37,591 increase in 2015? Her fingerprints are all over these and other decisions that affeted your taxes and do not warrant renewal of her contract.

 

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14 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

14 responses to “The truth about Ann Pappert’s performance as Guelph’s CAO

  1. Joe Black

    ………..April 04 where are the salters at 9:00 am I guess the city doesn’t watch the news

  2. Rena

    At the very least Ann Pappert should be shown the way out of the City. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    • booomer828

      Well Rena as good as that sounds it would probably cost us another 25 grand or so to have her move back OUT of the city like it cost us to have her move here…:-)

    • Rena

      Unfortunately it would probably be worth it. As she is costing Guelph into oblivion according to Guelph Speaks.

  3. Where is our mayor in all of this. So far he has been a disapointment.

  4. Andre

    You forgot the cost of all those reorganizations and staff buy outs of under her reign (do we actually have a count on that) and the increase in staff size of her (the CAO’s) department between her and the previous CAO Hans Loewig. She needs to go and Council can’t be blind in saying she did a good job the past 5 years.

  5. geo

    So lets say she gets turfed, then what?
    Another “friend of Farbridge” $250,000/yr. arts graduate?
    There are no positions, none nada, nien, in a City this size that should be paying that kind of money

  6. Pat

    I wonder if Pappert et al were collecting pay cheques from GMHI in addition to compensation from the City?

  7. Tony

    You forgot the OVERTIME issue Gerry. To me one of the biggest issues that should be on your list.
    I don’t think you can categorize this as a plus for them( amorosi and pappert). To me it seems like a BIG negative. My opinion though. Others could see it differently. He does try his hardest to turn it from a negative to a neutral/positive position. I can’t for the life of me see how letting something like this go on warrants the kind of raises they got. This to me beats your whole list combined. Can’t wait for the next report on this issue. Hopefully it improves. Unfortunately; if it does they might use this as an example of the great job they are doing and expect bigger raises. Even though they were negligent/blind to the fact it was going on under their watch.

    This article was from the mercury may 24th 2015

    http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/5642295-city-of-guelph-overtime-costs-down-staff-sick-days-up/

    The city appears to be gaining momentum in its battle against rising overtime costs tied to municipal staffing.

    The municipality’s latest human resources annual report says the City of Guelph spent $3.99 million on 92,398 hours of overtime in 2014. That was $811,000 and 20,000 hours less than the previous year.

    Mark Amorosi, the deputy chief administrative officer with the city, said improved tracking and accountability for overtime helped reduce the amount.

    “I don’t want to suggest that we weren’t managing overtime. But now we’re much better to report on overtime and identify it by category,” Amorosi said. “Having said that, there’s a lot more clarity throughout the organization around what I call management-directed overtime.”

    Translation: the people in charge aren’t approving it as often as they used to.

    After spending $4.8 million in overtime costs in 2013, the city conducted an overtime audit that came up with several recommendations to try to rein in costs.

    “We implemented the recommendations, which essentially translated into putting more rigorous structures in place to manage overtime and to report and track overtime,” Amorosi said.

    He said there were some “system issues” that were resolved that allowed better tracking of where and why the overtime was taking place.

    “Really, we focused on limiting the amount of management-directed overtime,” Amorosi said, “but sometimes you can’t avoid it because of workload.”

    There were also collective agreements that came up for renewal where overtime language was “clarified” to allow a reduction in overtime.

    Amorosi said it wasn’t a matter of overtime taking place that wasn’t needed.

    “There’s no such thing as unnecessary overtime.”.

    The municipal benchmark for overtime is 2.7 per cent of base salary. Guelph was at 3.71 per cent in 2014 compared to 4.72 in 2013.

    Not all overtime costs are by choice. Amorosi pointed to the Guelph Storm’s extended playoff run and the 2013 ice storm as examples.

    “Things that are out of our control drive up overtime,” he said. “Even simple things like when the Storm was in the playoffs in 2014. That created overtime, but it also created revenue.”

    Amorosi added that savings were also made in other areas of staffing that helped counter the overtime expense.

    He pointed to “gapping” of new hires where there was a savings of more than $800,000 over what was budgeted.

    “You have to look at all the numbers together.”

    Another section of the human resources annual report showed that the city’s 1,217 full-time employees took an average of 10.5 sick days each in 2014. That was up from 10.1 in 2014.

    Amorosi said the number of people taking sick days didn’t increase significantly, but the amount of time they were off was longer.

    He said the type of illness on a particular year (a particularly nasty flu strain, for example) and the age of the city’s workforce (45) are potentially contributing factors to that figure.

    The benchmark standard for sick days is 9.2 days a year

    • Tony: Thanks for the info about the annual Human Resources report. DCAO Amorosi is quoted saying there were 1.217 full-time employees in 2014. What he leaves out are the part-time and contract employees. Also the figure does not include the police service, fire department and EMS employees, all full-time employees paid by the city. When he speaks of the cost of overtime and sick days being reduced in 2014 he is putting a spin on it to make HR look good during an election year. He does not mention that internal auditor’s report in 2013 in which overtime cost the city more than $5 million. Guelph Transit led the parade with a staff of some 300 claiming overtime costing more than a million dollars. The auditor’s report was critical of the management of staff for failing to monitor or follow-up on staff absences. The auditor who posted this report, has not carried out a audit of city operations since. What does this say about Mr. Amorosi’s integrity?

  8. Fred

    ““Really, we focused on limiting the amount of management-directed overtime,” Amorosi said, “but sometimes you can’t avoid it because of workload.”

    Yes, those empty buses aren’t going to drive themselves.

  9. Fred

    “………..April 04 where are the salters at 9:00 am I guess the city doesn’t watch the news”

    Well, they saved a bundle of money by not salting before nine, and the costs were transferred to auto insurance companies. That’s innovative thinking.

  10. Fred

    “So lets say she gets turfed, then what?
    Another “friend of Farbridge” $250,000/yr. arts graduate?
    There are no positions, none nada, nien, in a City this size that should be paying that kind of money”

    Hey, I’ve got a degree in arts. I’ll do the job for $80,000, and I’ll cut costs.

  11. geo

    Exactly Fred.
    There are legions of qualified people for these jobs who would think they’d died and gone to heaven making 80,000/yr with public sector benefits to boot.
    Were paying for solid gold and getting pyrite.

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