Council not unanimous in approving 3.55% tax levy hike for 2015


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By approving its Part 2 capital budget and the 2015 operating budget Monday, city council authorized a property tax levy of $47,040,822 for this year.

That translates to a 3.55% property tax hike in 2015, up slightly from the 3.48% proposed, yet less than the 3.8% tax levy in 2014.

The slight increase from the proposed budget presented last week to council during a public meeting at the St. Thomas Seniors’ Centre is accounted for in additional grant money doled out by council.

In total, $281,146 was distributed to community groups and social agencies in St. Thomas, much of that sum drawn from working reserves.

That figure does not include $250,000 to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital for its expansion program as part of the city’s 10-year pledge. Continue reading

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


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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.”
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There’s no lack of sunshine this winter over at city hall


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After a quiet year in 2011, membership in the city’s Sunshine Club fairly blossomed last year, as outlined in a report to be received Monday by St. Thomas council.
In his public sector salary disclosure report, human resources director Graham Dart reveals membership in the $100,000 club mushroomed from 39 city hall employees in 2011 to 58 in 2012.
Of that total, 17 are from the city’s police department (up from 11 in 2011); 28 are from the fire department (17 in 2011) and 13 from city administration (an increase of only 2 over 2011).
We’ll compile a complete city list for next week, however here are highlights to tide you over.
The top earner at city hall is CAO Wendell Graves at $166,315, up from $146,217 in 2011. He supplants police chief Bill Lynch, who topped the list in 2011 at $150,976. He clocked in last year at $161,984.
Many city administrators saw their salary increase by about $5,000 last year in what was supposed to be an austerity push.
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