News reports about spending $150,000 on reporting software will not cure the increasing rate of sick leave by city staffers.
Yet that’s the solution presented to the Corporate Administration, Finance and Enterprise committee by Executive Director of Corporate and Human Resources, Mark Amorosi. The purchase is to reduce the increasing rate of sick leave absenteeism.
The city acknowledges that staffers were absent from work on average 10.2 days in 2011. Doing the math, that totals 13,015 lost days last year. That’s up from an average of 9.7 days per employee in 2008.
The city staff consists of 1,276 full time employees. That does not include, the Police with 195 uniformed personnel and 80 fulltime civilian staff plus “some” part-time employees. Add in three senior staffers, the Chief, Deputy Chief and Director of Corporate Services. Then there is the senior officers association composed of inspectors and 11 civilian senior managers.
Sick leave statistics for the Police Services and Fire Department were not revealed.
Estimating the average pay of Guelph civic workers at $45,000 per year divided by paid 270 workdays a year, equals an average daily rate of $166.66.
Now multiply that by 13,015 missed days and the estimated cost to taxpayers is $4,499,820. That’s paying for work that was never done.
Amorosi estimated that the software, when applied could save the city $300,000 and an additional $200,000 for reduced overtime to fill in for absent workers.
Coun. Gloria Kovach questioned where the $150,000 was coming from seeing it was not in the 2012 budget.
Amorosi, admitting that the city’s reserve accounts were too low, said funding would come from the “salary gapping reserve” that he said was very well funded for a city the size of Guelph.
How many businesses could afford to lose 10 days a year from employees who booked off sick?
The first question to ask is why are there such generous sick leave benefits in staff contracts? Are these benefits to be applied whenever at the employee’s discretion?
Somehow, the idea that the public pot is bottomless ignores the financial limits of the taxpayers.
There has been considerable discussion across the country on the runaway salaries and benefits paid to public employees. It ranges from municipalities to Provincial and Federal Governments.
The real question is, are staff benefits too generous and not controlled to the benefit of the taxpayers?
Municipalities have few sources of revenue and must balance their annual budgets. The chief source in Ontario comes from the taxpayers. It is collected by the municipalities and is shared with the Boards of Education.
For Amorosi to suggest that $150,000 should be spent on software to solve a problem for which management is responsible is wasteful and lacks discipline.
As usual, Mayor Farbridge supported the move.
It’s now up to Council to approve this proposal.
Will the Farbridge gang of eight support the committee’s recommendation? Or will the majority of council come to their senses and sandbag this attempt to let management off the hook?
Oh well, it’s only your $4,499, 820.