Response from “a” Mayor - Salary Increases - Should Pickering and Ajax merge?

I emailed the Mayor of Sarnia yesterday and had a response today! , on a holiday even I will add. Sarnia is a City of about 71,149 (2006 Census) people but the Mayor has been in place for 20 years and before that he was involved in Provincial Government, here is his Bio. Here is the final excerpt from lower down on the page. I want to be sure people understand that this Mayor has an extensive background and I don’t even live in his City but he found the time to provide me a response to my question that I was seeking the perspective from someone leading a Council. When I want to know something from a Mayor’s perspective, He seems to be the one I go to!

Prior to his election as Mayor, Mayor Bradley served as the Executive Assistant to the late Honourable Justice Bud Cullen, M.P., P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton (1980 to 1985).

Mayor Bradley has appeared on many Parliamentary Committees on behalf of the municipal sector and has appeared on “Prime Time News with Peter Mansbridge”; “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw”; “The Shirley Show”; “CBC Radio Noon”; “Focus Ontario”; and on “Prime Time News Town Hall Series with The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister of Canada.” He is a regular panelist on Ontario Mornings Mayors Panel. Mayor Bradley also appeared in the Academy Award-winning documentary, “Bowling for Columbine”. Mayor Bradley writes a twice-monthly column for Sarnia & Lambton County This Week which is a mixture of humour and politics called “Open Mike.” Mayor Bradley, a long time Bruce Springsteen fan, was a contributor to the Springsteen fan book “For You” , edited by Lawrence Kirsch, published in 2007. Mayor Bradley currently is a regular on the CBC Radio 1 national radio show called “The Point” as a “Point Person.”

Mr. Bradley is what I call an accessible Mayor!
Here is the email response I received to my questions — I received it early this afternoon on Easter Sunday!

Sarnia has a grid but there are many factors that impact on individual salaries such as the length of time a person is in the organization and where they are in the grid. 11% increase would not make sense in our grid and our non union workers receive increases within the range of inflation and only police and fire would be slightly higher because of their contracts or because they have paid duty assignments (police only). SarniaCAO. The title isn’t as important as the power that the Council assigns to the position. The City Manager system which started in the US is meant to remove Councils from involvement in the day to day operation of a community and to have a professional leading the organization. Councils still love to interfere in the day to day operations and micro manage. A good Manager will ensure that Council knows his/her role and the role of Council. Finally, I have written to the provincial and the last provincial government with my view on the $100,000 list. I believe ALL municipal salaries should be public not just ranges and fully disclosed.
Hope this helps and if you need further information just email me.

Mike

______________________

So even he was surprised that I would see a 11% increase in reportable salary from one year to the next.

I was looking at my spreadsheet again and it prompted me to go to the Town site to read some stuff again.

Our first year with the Casino was 2006 and by coincidence it is the first year of the large salary increase % - of the names on the Disclosure list. I have no idea about other Salaries or their increases, my focus is on the level that is to be “fully”? disclosed. $100K and above.

The highest increase from 2004 to 2005 is this 7.31% for the Director of HR Services. The following year increase 2005 to 2006 disclosed, the year the Casino opened is 14.87% by the Finance Director followed by the (new) CAO at 12.25% , that could be because he was a partial year in 2005 , I get that. But it still nags at me to see the larger increases from one year to the next after we get the Casino which did lower our tax rate increase . We had a tax increase of 5.35% in 2005 then we saw lower rate of increases, Yes we all love the Casino. The Town’s portion of the Tax bill in 2005 of the total bill a resident received was this - 29.6% after the Casino we dropped to 27.28% , 2.32% drop.

They tell us the % of the overall tax bill how much is spent where in Ajax but what is missing is the % of how the Town spends all the money. We need to see the numbers that add up to 100% of the Towns 28% .

We see this:
Q. How is the Town’s portion (27.28%) of the tax bill spent?
A.
Recreation & Culture 3.11%
Parks Maintenance 2.48%
Fire and Emergency Services 8.36%
Governance, Corporate Services 5.78%
Works Maintenance 4.67%
Library 2.06%
Planning and Development 0.82%

So if Planning and Development is only .82% of the total of all dollars what is it when looking at the % from only the Town’s take?

Why is the Director of Planning the highest % in the increase spreadsheet ? He is included in Governance and Corporate Services then.

It will take some reading and finding those department expenditures to budgeted amounts to get the % to add up to a 100% but I will try. I won’t bother asking the Town because nothing will come of it.

Follow the money and all will be answered, one of these days.

One other thing, if all the big plans that support the Budget - the Strategic Plan, Recreation Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan and the Community safety Strategy and the Development Charges Study are outsourced to “Experts” in those fields, why are we paying such high salaries to these Directors ? What are our Experts - Expert in ? This is just an off the top of my head pondering thought.

I predict I won’t get the answers I am looking for because it is not Mandated by the Province , I could complain to the Provincial Ombudsman but he does not have the jurisdiction to look into why I am not getting the answers I am asking.

We need more disclosure in the Municipal Sector.

What is your opinion on merging Pickering and Ajax ? would it save money ? We would only need One City Manager or CAO !
Maybe Mark Holland was onto something all those years ago when he suggested the idea when he was a Pickering Councillor.

3 Responses to “Response from “a” Mayor - Salary Increases - Should Pickering and Ajax merge?”

  1. Michael Baker Says:

    The mayor od Sarnia replied? That’s fantastic. So what’s the catch - he’s your brother … you went through school with him … he’s your guardian angel? In all the year’s I’ve written e-mails to Mayor Parish I’ve received about four replies. Councilor Ashby has yet to respond to my e-mails. As a result I never write him & usually copy Councilor Crawford who may or may not respond to me. In a perfect world all elected reprsentatives should respond to their constituents & to all who are interested enough to correspond with them. Hats off to the Mayor of Sarnia. I’m extremely impressed.

    Karem: I have never met him in my life!, I contacted him last year when our Staff referenced Sarnia in the LAS- Ombudsman issue for closed meetings, he answered me promptly then and I did not email him again until Easter Weekend. I was very surprised. Sarnia I was told today has not been a member of AMO for quite a few years also, those fees have gone up to , no surprise there! I sent Renrick an email this evening asking about a budget practice. I await a response. It was just a question and I copied Scott also.

  2. admin Says:

    I find it funny no one has said No to idea of Pickering and Ajax merging. a few people I know said they would not oppose it now.

    Has the time come to revisit this idea ?

    Ajax would get it’s extra voice it is seeking at the Region! :) 3 more!

  3. SM Says:

    Please don’t give them any ideas Karem (re: merging). These things always sound good when our elected officials talk about saving money. Usually these sorts of things become a disaster.

    What good did it do for the City of Toronto?. Did services improve?. Did taxes go down?. If people could vote I’m sure they’d rather have things the way they were before amalgamation. There’s other cities that have done the same thing and it’s only made things worse.

    In the early days (before Ajax was officially a town) this area was part of Pickering Township. I believe that changed when Ajax became a town in 1955. Then in the 1970s when Durham Region was formed (previously known as Ontario County) I think Pickering Village joined the Town of Ajax.

    I can’t see the sense in going back to the way things were before. The only thing I would suggest merging is perhaps the Libraries and Fire Departments. It worked for the transit and police.

    Karem: I know the Toronto story because that was a lot of merging! but part of the problem was perhaps not dealing with enough overlap. Was there a single job lost or did they keep everyone ? You suggest merging the Libraries and the Fire. I think it is just a matter of time before Fire is uploaded to the Region. I am sort of joking on it but there are those that are not against it if real cost savings can be found. We are not the size of the City of Toronto, smaller locals can merge probably and find savings where a City has a harder time of it.

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