Councillors question wages
Cipolla asks about increases to staffing numbers at city jobs
Orillia’s staffing levels have increased by nearly 12% in recent years.
In 2011, the city employed 245 workers, but that figure blossomed to 274 in 2016, according to a report presented to council committee earlier this week.
As well, the report determined the city spent nearly 22% more for all of its salaried employees over the same five-year period with total salaries rising from $17.2 million in 2011 to $21 million last year.
Broken down further (and not including firefighters’ and council salaries), the report noted the city spent 6.51% more per employee over the five-year period with salaries rising from $13.6 million in 2011 to $16.2 million last year.
The historical analysis of wages and benefits had been requested by councillors Tim Lauer and Ralph Cipolla.
“It’s not the percentages that bother me, it’s the number of employees,” Cipolla said, noting ratepayers end up footing the bill in the end.
“Taxpayers are borrowing money to pay their taxes. The community can’t afford these kinds of wages.”
Cipolla also wonders why the city is paying the same kind of wages one would find in Toronto for a similar municipal government job here.
“We’re trying to keep up with Toronto wages, but our cost of living is less.”
That said, Cipolla noted the city does employ some great people, who definitely work hard.
“We do have some excellent staff within our city. They care for our community, they go out of their way.”
But Coun. Ted Emond, who chairs council committee meetings, said the cumulative salary increase amounting to about 13% in most departments just follows the line with cost-of-living increases experienced in the last few years.
“They’re not outside of inflation,” Emond said, noting wages and benefits account for a large chunk of the city’s overall operating budget. “We’re all concerned about the amount of money it costs to run our municipality. We want to manage those costs the best we can.”
As for elected officials, a previous council adopted salary changes for councillors to to be phased in over a number of years.
In 2011, the salary for the mayor was $53,032 with a councillor receiving $23,831. By 2016, the mayor’s salary had increased by 54% to $81,780 and councillor salaries jumped 60% to $38,125.