Tag Archives: 2015 budget

Why Guelph’s legacy of irresponsible management continues an ongoing financial crisis

By Gerry Barker

April 8, 2016

When Deputy Chief Administrative Officer(DCAO), Mark Amorosi, says his department conducted a market review of senior management salaries, turns out the three top management staffers looked after their own salary increases in 2015.

Comparing the Guelph Sunshine List, (reporting public employees earning more tha $100,000 a year), to other similar-sized communities, it is apparent that the so-called market review to estimate what senior managers should be awarded, turned out to be self-serving, flawed and manipulated.

The evidence now is the admission by Coun. Karl Wettstien that council had no control of challenging the salary increases of any employee under the rank of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert.

Does this elevate the CAO to a position that she runs the operations of a $382 million budget with no recourse, no objection, no public input, and no control involving the public interest?

This is yet another hangover from the previous administration. Two people for the past five years have run our city, former Mayor Karen Farbridge and her hand-picked lieutenant, Ann Pappert.

Here’s how Ms. Pappert’s 2015 salary of $257,248 compares to Kingston’s CAO, Gerard Hunt, who was paid $215,764 or $41,484 less than the Guelph CAO. Or take Kitchener’s CAO Jeff Willmer, who earned $213,029 or $44,219 less than Ms. Pappert.

So what basis was there to award Ms. Pappert with a 17.11 per cent increase in 2015? Mark Amorosi claims there was a market review, comparing salaries of CAO’s. The report must have left out the two most obvious municipal comparisons, Kingston and Kitchener.

The pattern of control by the council dominated Bloc of Seven

The Bloc of Seven, seven councillors elected in 2014, controlling the council follows the policies of the former leadership of the left, the defeated mayor of Guelph, Karen Farbridge. She set the rules to establish tight control of the administration. Her followers elected to council, slavishly follows her direction and vote to support her strategies, policies and financial management.

After eight years, it resulted in a monumental financial disaster called Urbacon that cost the city $8.96 million to settle.. It cost her and some councillors their jobs. The fallout was the comparison of Guelph’s operational and capital costs in 2014 that were 50 per cent higher that either Cambridge or Kitchener.

Today, the remnants of these destructive policies are the same old gang trying to prevent any reform or reduction of costs.

Guelph has 12 general managers whose responsibilities and salaries vary by the scope of responsibility. Here is the list of general managers, their salary and taxable benefits in descending order:

Kealy Dedman – GM Engineering and Capital Infrastructure –      $170,637 – $756

Donna Jaques – GM Legal Services city solicitor                                   $158 997 – $1,667

Todd Salter – GM Planning, Urban design, Building Services         $157,978 – $767

Peter Cartright – GM Business Development and Enterprise         $153,997 – $3,467

Peter Busatto – Plant Manager Water Services                                      $152,188 – $699

Rodney Keller – GM operations                                                                   $142,491 – $4,299

Colleen Clack – GM Culture Tourism, Community Investment      $142,017 – $1,599

David Goodwaldt – GM Human Resources                                               $140,003 – $699

Kristene Scott – GM Parks and Recreation                                               $140,003 – $699

Phil Meagher – GM Guelph Transit                                                             $137,566 – $676

Mario Petricevic – GM Facilities Management                                       $127,206 – $2,435

Laszlo Petroczi – GM Guelph Junction Railroad                                     $110,448 – $538

In 2015, the city staff had 15 senior managers including the top three. Take another look at that list. There is no general manager of finances let alone a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). For more than 15 months, Guelph has been without a CFO. Instead, DCAO Mark Amorosi, head of Corporate Services, assumed responsibility for financial management.

Two budget cycles and still no CFO

Under Amorosi’s watch, we have gone through two General Managers of Finance and currently the vacant position is being filled with an in-house senior financial staffer. What more evidence do we need that Mr. Amorosi, who holds no accredited financial background, is out of his depth managing the city’s finances? Couple that with the chair of the finance committee, June Hofland, whose financial background consists of being a former bank teller.

These two people are managing the finances of a $500 million corporation with an annual budget of $382 million. The past three years management has overspent its budget by and average of more than a million dollars. Because the city must report a balanced budget to the province, raiding the reserves covers up the budget excesses.

Also, missing from the list are those employees of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc (GMHI) who earned more than $100,000 in 2015. Only one shows up as GM of Guelph Junction Railroad that is part of GMHI. There are no Sunshine List salaries from Guelph Hydro or Envada Corporation, also components of GMHI. These employees are paid from the public purse but not included in the Sunshine list. The revenue backbone of GMHI is Guelph Hydro. So when GMHI sends a $1.5 million dividend back to the city, it comes, indirectly, from your Hydro payments.

Since GMHI was formed by the previous administration, it has lost money but paid dividends totaling $9 million to the city general revenues. In 2014 alone, $1.5 million was delivered to the city while the financial statement of GMHI showed a loss of $2.8 million. There will be a report of GMHI due in June that could reveal other loses. (GS will have more on this subject later). In the the recent GMHI reorganization, the board was replaced with more council oversight of its activities.

DCAO Amorosi’s area of responsibilities also includes the annual human resources report in which he reports the full-time staff is 1,275. What it leaves out are some 45 per cent of employees paid from the public purse including part timers, contractors, police, fire and EMS.

A further subverting of the public interest is the use of closed sessions of council. These meetings are secret and participants are warned that they cannot discuss the closed sessions.

This is how those three super-sized salary increases to Pappert, Amorosi and Thomson were not revealed for a year after the council approved. The only reason the public found out was the provincial 2015 Sunshine List revealed the increases, not the city.

It’s time to put a stop to our city being held hostage by the same people who caused the operational problems accumulated in the past eight years.

Let’s take back our city.



Filed under Between the Lines