Holding the line or a pause in the action? Membership in the city’s Sunshine Club stalled at 27 in 2009, based on figures released this week under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, which requires municipalities to publicly report salary and benefits of more than $100,000 paid to municipal employees.
Mind you the select group would have inched up to 28 but for the extended leave of absence undertaken by city treasurer Bill Day who, in 2008, earned a base salary of close to $110,000.
Leading the payroll parade again this year is St. Thomas Police Chief Bill Lynch at $135,424, up marginally from $135,267 in 2008.
As was the case at this time last year, Deputy Chief Darryl Pinnell has a lock on second place at $126.494 — virtually identical to a year ago.
Three other members of the force remained on the list: senior inspectors Mark Traichevich and Jeff Driedger at $119,871 (up slightly from $119,732 in 2008); and Staff Sgt. Steve Withenshaw, $101,677 ($101,627); while Staff Sgt. Randy Mundt joined the club at $100,700.
After declining by one member in 2008, the fire department swelled the Sunshine Club ranks with a total of 13 cardholders now.
Chief Bob Barber earned $125,308 ($121,963); with senior platoon chief Kevin Kernohan in at $116,150.
At city hall itself, fiscal responsibility was pleasantly in evidence as salaries remained reasonably close to previous figures.
Director of environmental services John Dewancker earned $123,565 ($120,014) ; planning director Pat Keenan, $113,048 ($109,792); human resources director Graham Dart, $113,048 ($107,072); city clerk Wendell Graves, $106,388 ($103,341) and Valleyview administrator Michael Carroll checked in at $104,628.
Library CEO Rudi Denham saw her salary drop to $100,279 ($103,434); director of Ontario Works Sandra Datars-Bere climbed to $104,628 ($101,617); and director of nursing at Valleyview Joyce Gonyou earned $103,904 ($100,914).
However the bottom line is not the same picture of health for those not privileged to count themselves as members of the exclusive club.
It’s a safe bet the vast majority of wage-earners in St. Thomas did not benefit from a pay hike of 3% or more and likely face the same meagre prospect in 2010.
For the complete list of city employees earning over $100,000 in 2009, visit here .
NOT OUT OF OUR POCKETS
As you can witness from the letter above (and this is only one of several pieces of correspondence directed to the T-J this week), city council would be well advised to file the grant request from Bible Baptist Church in the “no action required” drawer.
Bailing a business out of a tax predicament is not the responsibility of already-stressed city taxpayers.
And the fact council opens each session with the Lord’s Prayer should not be waved as a flag of responsibility on the part of our elected officials.
St. Thomas has taken a pasting the last couple of days as the CBC circled the city like vultures waiting for the final death throes.
The city has become the poster child for the manufacturing meltdown in the eyes of the mother corporation and a lengthy feature on The National hinting we will be left on the platform as the wheels of economic recovery slowly gain momentum is a palette from which we can only continue to paint a canvas of doom and gloom.
All of this at the same time a much-anticipated economic development strategy was unveiled by a partnership dedicated to rebranding St. Thomas and Elgin in a much more attractive and opportune light.
The old adage any publicity is better than none at all is not helping the cause in this case.
THE NAME GAME
The Walker Transport sign was removed from the main rink at the Timken Centre this week, a result of the firm’s bankruptcy earlier this year and inability to fulfill its financial obligation to the capital fundraising campaign.
It’s a sorry outcome for the proud family-operated business but it’s a cut-throat environment out there and city ratepayers are now on the hook for this shortfall.
Perhaps a banner thanking the citizens of St. Thomas — ultimately the largest financial contributors to the $12.1 million facility — should be hoisted instead.
Unless a member of the Olympic hockey community steps forward and open up his chequebook.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m very disappointed I don’t see anything there of direct value. That (infrastructure funding) doesn’t help us climb out of the hole any farther than we’ve already climbed.”
Bob Hammersley, president and CEO of St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, is under-whelmed by the federal budget brought in Thursday by the Harper government.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.