Base salary root cause of significant numbers in Sunshine Club – St. Thomas police chief


When 41% of municipal employees appearing on the so-called Sunshine List are members of one branch or service, it’s a surefire way to draw the attention – and the ire – of ratepayers who are on the hook.
That was the case in 2016 when 46 of the 113 municipal employees who earned in excess of $100,000 in 2016 were members of the St. Thomas Police Service. That’s a healthy bump up from 31 in 2015.
But every picture tells a story and it wasn’t a healthy amount of overtime or so-called duty pay that pushed those individuals over the $100,000 bar, stressed St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, it is the reality base salaries for first-class constables are already hovering around that benchmark.

Continue reading

Utility merger could power an expanded vision for St. Thomas Elevated Park


city_scope_logo-cmykAs if playing home to this country’s first elevated park wasn’t high enough honour, St. Thomas could be one starting point for an ambitious trail project – an undertaking pinned to the pending merger of St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus, based out of Chatham-Kent.
Earlier this week Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas, released details of what the St. Thomas Elevated Park will look like when the gate at the eastern approach swings open Aug. 27. 
When the organization acquired the former Michigan Central Railroad trestle – built in 1929 at a cost of $689,000 – the purchase included 4 km of railway right-of-way at the western end of the structure running to Lyle Road in Southwold.

Continue reading

The downtown garbage doesn’t migrate to warmer climes


city_scope_logo-cmykIf you’re thinking the downtown core is again this winter cloaked in a decidedly shabby mantle, your mind is not playing tricks.

That observation has not escaped the attention of Downtown Development Board chairman Earl Taylor.

“The city took away our garbage cans again this year,” advised Taylor in a recent conversation, “and you know what happened two years ago.”

That would be the stretch of winter in 2015 when – and we’re not joshing here – the city undertook a study to determine what happens when you take away most of the garbage cans along Talbot Street.

Continue reading

Trash-talking councillor bags Downtown Development Board


city_scope_logo-cmyk

Hot off the press Friday: public sector salary disclosures for 2014.

Now the city hall figures were released earlier this month and to recap, a total of 96 employees earned greater than $100,000, a more than 50% increase over the 2013 total of 62.

Breaking that number down, 33 members of the St. Thomas Police Service are now included, up from 16 in 2013.

Over at the fire department, 48 employees earned $100,000 or more in 2014 as compared to 32 the year previous.

And 15 city administrators exceed that figure, an increase of one over 2013.

Topping the earnings list at city hall was CAO Wendell Graves at $172,372 ($165,900 in 2013). John Dewancker, director of environmental services, earned $139,693 as compared to $132,309 the previous year and Graham Dart, director of human resources, had a salary of $127,839 in 2014 ($124,784). Continue reading

It’s five o’clock boys, put down the hoses


city_scope_logo-cmyk

Members of the city’s police and fire service account for an overwhelming majority of members in the Sunshine Club each year and 2014 was no exception.

Of the 96 city employees who earned greater than $100,000 last year, 81 work are based at the police station or fire halls.

This corner talked at length last week with Chief Darryl Pinnell who made it very clear, “A lot of it has to do with base salaries now. Things are getting up to the point where base salaries are getting close to that ($100,000) number.”

Likewise, we had a lengthy dialogue with Chief Rob Broadbent on the factors impacting the salaries of firefighters.

“If you look at the Sunshine List this year, you’re going to see a number of firefighters on it versus officers. It’s not uncommon for our officers to be there just by pay grids. Tack a few call-back fires or overtime shifts on top of an officer’s salary and it doesn’t take very much for them to bump over the $100,000 threshold.”
Continue reading

Membership explosion in Sunshine Club sure to annoy


city_scope_logo-cmyk

There sure was a rush on seats inside the 2014 Sunshine Club as outlined in a report to council Monday detailing City of St. Thomas public sector salary disclosure.

The city had a total of 96 employees who earned greater than $100,000, a more than 50% increase over the 2013 total of 62.

Breaking that number down, 33 members of the St. Thomas Police Service are now included, up from 16 in 2013.

Over at the fire department, 48 employees earned $100,000 or more in 2014 as compared to 32 the year previous.

And 15 city administrators exceed that figure, an increase of one over 2013.

Topping the earnings list at city hall was CAO Wendell Graves at $172,372 ($165,900 in 2013). John Dewancker, director of environmental services earned $139,693 as compared to $132,309 the previous year and Graham Dart, director of human resources, had a salary of $127,839 in 2014 ($124,784). Continue reading

Here’s a way for the city to play transfer station operator for less


city_scope_logo-cmyk
Budget deliberations the last three years have been relatively civil in nature and completed in timely fashion.
With a preliminary tax hike of 5.9% in the balance for 2014, matters are likely to get heated, if not downright ugly, on Monday as members of council — painfully aware the municipal vote looms in October — whittle that number down to the 3% range before calling it an evening.
That’s going to take some resolve as council is faced with several ‘no-touch’ items that account for a considerable hit to the municipal property tax rate.
Land ambulance costs will rise $400,000 this year; policing at the new consolidated courthouse will add about $450,000; and then there’s the promised grant of $350,000 to the hospital revitalization fund — part of a 10-year $3.5 million pledge.
There’s more than a million big ones right off the bat.
And, don’t forget back in December council approved adoption of a long-term asset management plan — to deal with a whopping infrastructure deficit — and voted to include the plan in the budget to ensure sufficient capital reserves are available to fund the plan.
Continue reading