Salaries climb for Vernon city workers

It’s costing more to operate Vernon city hall.

Payroll for municipal staff went from $18.8 million in 2010 to $20.9 million last year.

“Total salaries compared to taxation keeps going up and it’s unsustainable,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

“It’s up 77 per cent on a net basis from 2006.”

The gross number of employees in 2011 was 320, while it was 315 in 2010.

Eighty-two employees earned more than $75,000 a year in 2011, up from 66 in 2010.

“We have to not only provide services, we have to be seen as providing the service in the best manner possible,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

“It’s part of why we are having a core service review.”

The review will look at all city functions and determine if there is value for money.

Of the 82 employees earning more than $75,000 a year, 26 were in the fire department, 25 were from operations, 12 were in administration, seven were from the planning department, five were in finance, four were from engineering, one was from recreation and one was at the airport.

The top earner (both salary and expenses) was former chief administrative officer Leon Gous at $176,684.

Others were acting CAO Marg Bailey at $124,049, finance manager Kevin Bertles at $119,188, engineering manager Rob Dickinson at $118,539 and planning manager Kim Flick at $117,626.

Spiers supports the core service review proceeding later this year.

“We need more revenue, more effective service delivery or we keep increasing taxes,” he said.

Spiers wouldn’t speculate on whether staff reductions should be part of the review.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham admits increased salaries over $75,000 may fuel public perception but there is no ability to correct wages like in the private sector.

“We have long-serving staff and it stands to reason that will happen. We have great staff,” she said.

The 2011 annual report lists one staff severance for five month’s salary. No details about the position are being provided because of confidentiality rules.

Remuneration and expenses have also been released for mayor and council in 2011.

In order, they were Wayne Lippert - $67,235, Buffy Baumbrough - $25,472, Jack Gilroy - $25,350, Patrick Nicol - $20,831, Shawn Lee - $20,184, Mary-Jo O’Keefe - $20,733 and Bob Spiers - $20,474.

For those politicians elected in November, remuneration is $4,945 for Rob Sawatzky and $1,575 each for Juliette Cunningham, Catherine Lord and Brian Quiring.

Residents will be able to provide input on the city’s 2011 annual report June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.



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