Mark Amorosi’s path to become the highest paid DCAO in Ontario

By Gerry Barker

August 12, 2016

Thanks to a special Sunshine List website, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO), Corporate Services, for the City of Guelph, Mark Amorosi has managed to be instrumental in making sure he was well paid. Since he joined the staff as Director of Human Resources in 2008, he has helped himself from earning $147,800 to being the highest paid DCAO in the province earning $209,629 in 2015. That’s an eight-year increase of $61,829 or 41.8 percent.

On top of that, Mr. Amorosi collected additional taxable income for expenses of $38,960.17 in his eight-year period of employment. Perhaps, because he lives in Hamilton, his commuting costs were claimed. How many people do you know who are paid to drive to work and get free parking?

But when you examine the job description it changes over those eight years. In 2009 as Director of Human Resources, Amorosi’s accredited field of expertise, he received a 5.43 per cent increase with a bump in salary of $8,029 plus a taxable benefit of $5,361. Not bad after just a year on the job.

In 2010, Mr. Amorosi was promoted to Executive Director, Human Resources and Legal Services and his salary increased to $161,383 plus a taxable benefit of $6,256.

You may recall that this was a civic election year and shortly after Mayor Farbridge and a majority of her council supporters were re-elected, City Clerk Lois Giles resigned and City Solicitor, Lois Payne, retired. This left vacancies in major positions and Mr. Amorosi was charged with replacing the two senior employees.

His upward path continued in 2011 as he assumed additional responsibilities being appointed Executive Director, Corporate and Human Resources with a 4.5 per cent salary increase taking him to $168,651 plus a taxable benefit of $6,361. In the space of four years, Mr. Amorosi’s salary had increased by $20,851 or 14.1 per cent since he joined the city. During this period, Mr. Amorosi was responsible for all labour union and management employee contracts, including his own.

The web of progressive’s  domination

The result was he looked after the unionized employees who were strong supporters of the Farbridge-dominated council. The unions were happy with the avalanche of benefits and regular increases, as were the managers who always seemed to get a little more from the public purse when contracts were renewed.

The year 2011 was one of massive change in the city administration as the Mayor pursued her dream of establishing a separate corporation to manage city-owned assets. It was independent of the city but the city corporation remained financially responsible. Known as Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc the Mayor appointed herself as chairperson and four of her council supporters to the Board of Directors. Also on the board was Jasmine Urisk, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Guelph Hydro, along with two independent directors, appointed by the mayor.

Mr. Amorosi applied for the Chief Administrative Officer’s (CAO) job when Hans Loewig retired but was beaten out by Ann Pappert. Farbridge appointed Ms. Pappert as GMHI’s CEO.

The city’s financial management was in chaos as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Margaret Neubaur was fired in 2012 and Susan Arum, employed in the finance department was a temporary replacement. She resigned a year later when Amorosi hired Al Horsman as CFO.

It is clear that Mr. Amorosi had his hands all over these management changes because he was head of human resources and now had influence in managing city finances. It was not a position that he was trained for nor had direct experience. His usual tactic was to recommend to council that they hire a consultant to seek senior staff replacements. In his world, he used consultants whenever there were contentious issues. It was his protective shield and the costs of these experts soared.

The open government head fake that cost $500,000

In 2013, the city hired a Toronto consultant to prepare an open government plan offering transparency and accountability. The lengthy report cost $500,000 and resulted in neither transparency nor accountability by the administration. Political events concerning the construction of the new City Hall had escalated and the impending fallout was consuming the administration.

In 2013, Mr. Amorosi’s salary had climbed to $176,400 plus the taxable benefit of $6,333. Behind the scenes, the Guelph Hydro was raising rates and today is 42 per cent higher since 2013. This became a precursor of the failure of GMHI and the Community Energy Initiative.

In November 2014, just three weeks after the civic election, the senior staff reorganized converting from Executive Directors to DCAO’s. This was due to two key individuals retiring, Janet Laird and Derek McCaughan. In Mr. McCaughan’s case, there is question as to whether he was pushed out or really retired.

Three DCAO appointees, Mark Amorosi, Al Horsman and Derrick Thomson received immediate increases of some $6,000. Horsman was moved from CFO to Waste Management and Environmental Services. He left the city last August to accept a job as CAO of Sault Ste Marie.

In the first months of 2015, is where Mr. Amorosi took control of city finances and human resources. The pressure was starting to mount against CAO Ann Pappert. The GMHI project was being exposed as a financial and operational disaster that eventually was estimated to cost $37.1 million.

It is obvious that those senior management salary increases had to be included in the 2015 budget approved in March.

Salary-Gate  rip-off

Council didn’t approve the increases until December 9, the final day of completing the 2016 budget. Council met in closed session and approved 2015 salary increases for CAO Pappert, DCAO’s Mark Amorosi, Derrick Thomson and Al Horsman. The increases ranged from 14 per cent to 19 per cent. Those increases were not revealed to the public until the provincial Sunshine List was published last March.

The General Manager of Finance and Treasurer, Janice Sheehy, left that same month after only a year on the job. Amorosi had hired her plus another lady who left prior to Ms. Sheehy’s arrival.

Now he has promoted a junior in the Finance Department to be CFO, General Manager of Finance and Treasurer, Tara Baker, who will not report until next year because she is on maternity leave. Details of her appointment will not be known until the March 2018 because she won’t report until mid-2017.

Mr. Amorosi has to carry the responsibility for this choice. He hired a headhunting firm to find a CFO but then promoted from within. He is also expert at concealing pay details including contracts and benefits. This egregious act depicts the actions of a man who has been given undeserved power and has had it since November 2014.

In this case, the Mayor should have said no to the Baker appointment and defer any vote on the matter. Mr. Amorosi should have been ordered to continue the search for a CFO. Unfortunately, the mayor seems to feel that participating in a “ wacky global scavenger hunt” is more important to Guelph and his reputation.

This is what happens when power is concentrated and used for self-interest.

Here is a chart downloaded from the Sunshine List website that shows why Guelph’s managerial costs are way out of line. It clearly demonstrates that members of the senior staff know how to look after their needs and then deliberately hide the facts from the citizens who pay those salaries for four months.

Members of council who voted for these increases December 9 should also hang their heads in shame for allowing this to occur and then attempt to cover it up.

Mr. Amorosi has managed to be one of the highest paid employees in his job category conducting his job since 2010. Now that’s looking after number one!

2015 Highest Earners with Same Position POSITION: Deputy Chief Administrative Officer

1 MARK AMOROSI                            City of Guelph $209,630
2 DERRICK THOMSON                            City of Guelph $207,554
3 ANDREW CAMPBELL                            Town of Innisfil $182,716
4 ALBERT HORSMAN                            City of Guelph $157,441
5 BLAINE PARKIN                            Town of New Tecumseth $133,459
6 CINDY MCNAIR                            City of Stratford $132,041

Notes: Mr. Horsman left the city in August 2015

Mr.Thomson was appointed CAO in June 2016

If interested, you can obtain complete comparisons and details of any employee in the province by going to: Just type in the name you want to check in the box provided.



Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “Mark Amorosi’s path to become the highest paid DCAO in Ontario

  1. Rena

    So nice that the City of Guelph is sooo generous with the taxpayers money. When will this abuse of the citizens of Guelph stop?

  2. Sue

    Guelph is a significantly bigger community than the ones used in your examples (Stratford, New Tecumseth, Innisfil), so presumably the title of the jobs might be the same, but the scope would be somewhat larger and more complex in Guelph. I’m not necessarily defending the pay scale used in Guelph, just pointing out that you’re not really comparing apples to apples here, and a more valid equivalency would be to use cities of the same size and compare salaries for the same position of responsibility regardless of the job title.

    • Sue: I suggest you check out the size of municipalities Innisfil and New Tecumseth that you mentioned not being the same size. Both are rapidly growing municipalities. I am familiar with both but am only reporting the Sunshine list’s figures comparing the position of DCAO’s in the province. I believe that the recent revelation of the double figure percentage raises the senior staff awarded themselves (with council’s concurrence in closed session) raises serious concern about the level of compensation the staff is receiving. In my opinion, I believe that salary levels are out of line. I have compared operational and capital spending costs of cities such as Barrie, Kingston, Kitchener Cambridge and Windsor. Guelph’s costs are 50 per cent higher than Cambridge or Kitchener. The reason is that commercial/industrial development has stagnated for eight years while spending soared along with property taxes and user fees. Nothing much has been accomplished to change the situation since October 2014.

    • Sue

      Just checked, per your suggestion, Gerry, and they’re all in the 30,000 range, or about one-quarter the size of Guelph, population-wise.

  3. Marc

    I don’t know how it works in the city of Guelph, but where I work, our VP would need to be qualified to run the department. If the salary grade is rated what he currently makes, that would mean has the qualifications to run the department and over-ride, and make decisions on people reporting to him.
    Here is what he is responsible for –
    We know he doesn’t have an accounting designation, so not sure how he can get paid to over-rule the CFO’s call. (I’m stretching my assumption here in the hope the person as CFO actually has an accounting designation).
    I don’t think he has the Clerk background yet as the supervisor he can over-rule the City Clerk. — This position I think is the one that runs the city council agenda so it has a lot of power.
    I don’t think he has a background in court or information technology. So not sure how he can make decisions and fill for these staff when they are off on leave or over-rule their decisions.
    The propaganda department (communications) and the HR department he definitely has experience and is qualified for.
    We do pay him $200k to be the genius to suggest city employees should provide live answer to residence when they call- so I guess he is qualified there. (Can’t wait to see his price tag on this one and all the raises the unions will want to answer the phone).
    I don’t know what the project management office is or what type of projects that office manages and I hope to God it isn’t the construction projects the city does. But then again, remember the Wyndham street bridge when Santa claus almost got his head cut off when his float was going under it…Amorosi may have been covering for the engineer that day.
    The point is – this guys gets a lot of money for not having the actual qualifications. And lets not forget he never actually applied for these jobs, was appointed so we never really get to see what the qualifications required. Its a dirty little game they have been playing and don’t want us to know it. And I don’t think his bosses have been much better so they won’t hold him accountable or ask these questions.

  4. guelphspeaks reader

    The guards now protecting workers at the waste management facility – how much are they getting paid? Instead of contracting out, that job should be internally filled by a rotating slate of city hall managers.

    • bostoncollie

      I like that idea @guelphspeaksreader. They should also include the Mayor and Councillors in the rotation.

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