Bill Sandison address to St. Thomas council, Jan. 19-09

I appreciated what little time I was given this evening to share the findings from the 2008 Ontario Municipality Comparison. Unfortunately I was only able to get halfway though my deputation, so I have attached the full transcript below for your information. I sensed that the results were unwelcomed by the chair and it may be worthwhile for you to watch the December broadcast of Politically Speaking regarding the $80,000 as I did not invent that number.It is not my credibility that is in question.

I was not advised how much time I had to make the deputation, but sense it was less than 10 minutes. I was not aware there was such little interest in the facts, but sometimes the truth is just too difficult to face.

If you have any questions, please give me a call at 519-207-0819.

Bill Sandison

2008 Ontario Municipality Comparison Study
Population Range 30,000 to 45,000

I would like to thank council for allowing me to make a deputation this evening on the results of a study conducted through December and January in conjunction with Ontario Municipalities within a population range of 30,000 to 45,000 people.
I would also like to thank those in attendance and those watching at home for sharing their time this evening to listen to my deputation.

For those attending this evening’s council meeting I have distributed a copy of the 2008 Ontario Municipality Comparison Study Population Range 30,000 to 45,000 results so you can follow along and for those at home we have it on the screen.

Remunerations discussions began in council earlier in 2008 prompted by the board stipends paid to St. Thomas Holding Inc. members, but my interest was sparked by the remuneration package tabled by Alderman Warden last August and the ongoing debate that followed. Alderman Warden had selected Stratford, Woodstock and Belleville to draw comparisons with St. Thomas. It seemed to me to be a relatively small sample size.

Then, in December after listening to statements made by Mayor Cliff Barwick on Roger’s TV broadcast of Politically Speaking hosted by Dan Reith I decided to undertake an independent survey of Ontario Municipalities.

Mayor Barwick stated that St. Thomas council’s remuneration is in the “bottom ten percentile in the province of Ontario,” and mused that now would not be a good time to boost his salary to $80,000 by asking the residents to make him a full-time mayor. Intuitively it seems neither logical nor reasonable to believe that our mayor’s remuneration would be so vastly inequitable compared to his peers.

I selected the population range of 30,000 to 45,000 as the parameter for benchmarking. There are ten Ontario municipalities; Timmins, Quinte West, Georgina, St. Thomas, Woodstock, Brant, Lakeshore, Innisfil, Stratford and Orillia.

I reached out to each of the other nine Ontario communities listed to participate in a survey examining council remuneration, organization structure and electoral process. I received overwhelming and enthusiastic support from all nine participants in the study and we essentially compiled the results over a two week period. All are in receipt of the final results which I am presenting to you this evening.

It was recognized that there are unique characteristics within each municipality and in an attempt to form an “apples to apples” comparison we grouped the following items into compensation; council remuneration, 2nd tier remuneration, board stipends, car allowance, and paid benefits. Those items normally associated with expenses; hotel accommodation, air travel, conferences and mileage are not considered to be compensation.

Before we compare the actual compensation numbers, I would like to highlight some of the surprising differences across the communities;

Car Allowance
– Only Woodstock and St. Thomas pay a flat car allowance (Mayor – $5,100 and $5,000 respectively and Councillor $1440 and $1000 respectively)
– All other communities have vouchers submitted for actual mileage with the highest rate .51c/kilometer

– Stratford pay council zero; Brant council have to pay $1800 if they want benefit coverage with others paying benefits in full or an option to accept cash in lieu of benefits

The compensation amounts for the Mayors average $51,560 with a low of $39,531 for Lakeshore and a high of $63,540 for Stratford.

St. Thomas Mayor Barwck’s compensation at $53,000 places him in the 2nd quartile of his peer group. In addition, as there is little to no distinction made between full-time and a part-time mayor as there is no documentation defining hours worked. With the exception of St. Thomas all mayors log upwards of 60 hours per week.

Alderman Warden’s compensation package dated August 26th, 2008 to council stated, “the mayor of St. Thomas is compensated far below his peers of similar size cities. The data from this study does not support that claim.

The compensation amounts for Councillors average $18,959 with a low of $13,897 for Stratford and a high of $24,042 for Woodstock.� St. Thomas Aldermens salary of $22,000 places them in the 1st quartile.

Our council is not in the “bottom ten percentile” of anything in Ontario.

To close on the council’s compensation segment, I would like to make a comment regarding Belleville as they were included in Alderman Warden’s proposal indicating their Mayor’s remuneration is $85,102, and this may have prompted our Mayor to comment that his salary should perhaps be $80,000.
Belleville have advised me that their Mayor’s compensation for 2008 was $66,978 not $85,102. The $66,978 is comprised of remuneration $60,544, car allowance – $4,800 benefits – $1,085 and life insurance – $549.

As you consider the compensation results, our council is fairly compensated however as a city taxpayer the one area I take exception to is the car allowance. The car allowance of $5000 to the Mayor and $1,000 to the Alderman should be eliminated and replaced by mileage that should be vouchered at the appropriate rate per kilometer consistent with most peer communities. It also ensures financial integrity making sure that the city bears only the cost of the actual expense.

The structure of council is such that the average number of Councillors is 8 with a low of 5 in Georgina and a high of 12 in Quinte West. Georgina, Lakeshore, Innisfil and Stratford have a Deputy Mayor. Lakeshore and Innisfil are part of Tier 2 and sit on the County of Essex and County of Simcoe respectively – nothing too revealing in this data.

All nine communities; Timmins, Quinte West, Georgina, Woodstock, Brant, Lakeshore, Innisfil, Stratford and Orillia, that actively participated in the survey have a Chief Administration Officer. This is an area that should be re-examined by our city council.

Only St. Thomas is without a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). When it was proposed by Alderman Gord Campbell in the fall of 2007, the motion to reinstate position at head of corporation died in 4-4 deadlock. At the time Mayor Barwick stated, “If I thought we had chaos and everything was falling down, I would be the first person to say as the mayor of St. Thomas, we needed someone to pull us together.” He said a CAO position is one of power that often acts as a gatekeeper.They are fallible … I don’t think I could accept it. And how could I exist as a CEO when I have no (faith) in that system? I’d have to go.

Generically the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is responsible to Council for the efficient management of the municipal workforce, and for seeing that Council’s directions and policies are carried out. The CAO provides leadership to The Corporation and coordinates the departments in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The main tasks of the CAO are to:
Provide advice and support to the Mayor and Council,
Ensure the direction/decisions of Mayor and Council are carried out,
Be the principle liaison between the Municipal Council and staff,
Provide leadership to the municipal workforce, Lead in the annual development of a business plan for The Corporation, Develop and maintain an effective organizational structure for The Corporation that reflects operational needs, Ensure the acquisition and effective management of the fiscal, human and physical resources,
Ensure a high level of customer service and seek continuous improvement, Ensure the effective functioning of all municipal operations Develop and maintain key relationships with other municipal and provincial organizations, and Ensure effective financial and administrative systems are in place. As noted a few years ago by George Cuff, a Certified Management Consultant in Municipal World;
“It should be evident that the mayor is not elected to manage the municipality. This is not a position that one takes on because of vast experience in local government or in senior positions in industry or the public sector. A mayor, quite simply, is elected to lead. There are substantive differences. Any mayor who assumes the functions and prerogatives of a chief administrative officer is not only guilty of undermining the most important administrative linkage a council has to its staff, but also lessens the potential positive impact that a political leader can impart to the community. It is not possible to do well at both positions concurrently. One or both will inevitably suffer, and in most instances, it will be both.”
Is there anyone who believes that St. Thomas is not in a pile of hurt?
From the Public Sector Salary Disclosure for those employees earning in excess of $100,000, known as the Sunshine Club the average is 9 employees. St. Thomas is highest with a staggering 22 people and the next closest is Timmins with a population of 42,977 and they have 16. You can draw your own conclusions from this data.

It is interesting to note that regarding the electoral process 7 of the 10 communities use a ward system to ensure that all areas of the City are uniformly represented, providing balanced representation on City council. Woodstock, Stratford and St. Thomas have not adopted this system to elect their council.

In St. Thomas there was a commitment by the Mayor in his first inaugural address to raise the topic of a ward system with council in June 2007, a recommitment to raise it in January 2008 and finally it was tabled in June 2008.
It was a hand scribbled notice of motion that opened with the following, Before engaging in the formal complicated process of representational change. It was immediately deferred, deferred yet again, progressed to the lofty status of old business then went in the trash can, with nary a peep from anyone on council.
For some reason, this council is unwilling to discuss the subject in open chamber. Is it because the current electoral system in St. Thomas is self-serving? Timmins, Quinte West, Georgina, Brant, Lakeshore, Innisfil, and Orillia have uniform and balanced representation so I am not sure how complicated the process is, if they were able to do it. This issue has not gone away; the residents of St. Thomas deserve the ultimate say on how their council is elected.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to present the results of the 2008 Ontario Municipality Comparison Study Population Range 30,000 to 45,000 to set the record straight. Gord Campbell said in the last council meeting of 2008 words to the effect that the topic of council remuneration had been a self=serving exercise spanning seven months. I fully agree with his assessment. I would add that when the data used to formulate your own remuneration is selective and incorrect, you lose integrity and credibility.

Our council is fairly remunerated when compared to its peer municipalities.

I suggest this council adopt by way of a by-law that the municipalities grouped in the 30,000 to 45,000 population are established as their benchmark for all future comparisons and that this study is refreshed from time to time, especially the area of total compensation.

In closing I would like to thank those again seated here and those watching from home you are the most important people in this chamber this evening.



One thought on “Bill Sandison address to St. Thomas council, Jan. 19-09

  1. Well done Mr.Sandison..
    Politicians are famous for standing up for things that matter most to them,and yes Im talking about their salary.Im a resident of Brampton,Ontario and our city council is not unlike St.Thomas city council,where as our city council also gets bogged down in mind numbing debate over the smallest of issues,but bring up their salary and they all perk up,and come the day of a vote for a pay raise,without fail,they’re all in attendance.They seem to have an endless amount of excuses as to why they should be paid more,similar to a child in a sandbox who notices another child has a better toy then them,suddenly they want what that child has.In this particular case Mayor Barwick discovers another mayor is earning more money then him,then he figures that he should make the same,and everyone should just be in agreement.It never ceases to amaze me with politicians,that as soon as they get into office,out the window goes the main reason they were elected,to represent the interests of the taxpayers.All of a sudden they get attached to this idea,that they should be paid for every step taken,for every kilometer driven,for every word spoken,when in fact they should be paid a regular salary like everyone else,do the job open and honestly,instead of constantly trying to line their own pockets.Its time for our elected officials to deal with the people’s business,because as it stands now,the only issue that seems to get resolved quickly, is a politicians pay raise!!

    Bob Foster

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