Coun­cil­lors ques­tion wages

Cipolla asks about in­creases to staffing num­bers at city jobs

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW PHILIPS

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.

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