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Some city managers receive pay hikes as high as 20 per cent

Senior staff at city hall received some substantial pay hikes in 2011.

Last week the city released its financial statements, listing all employees making more than $75,000 annually. Many of the top earners received increases, some as high as 20 per cent, from the previous year.

According to city manager Frank Pizzuto, there are two main factors that impact the salary of non-union staff, including an economic increase.

Pizzuto said if Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) staff receive a three per cent increase, generally exempt staff get the same.

The other wage influence is compensation.

“We had a compensation specialist come in, as most organizations do.”

The specialist compares the salaries across municipalities and “assigns each position a salary range.”

Pizzuoto said the city aimed for a 50 percentile, meaning about half of municipalities pay higher and half lower.

In 2011, the largest income increase went to Mike Pastro, manager of the Abbotsford Airport. He went from year-end earnings of  $138,486  to $166,344 – an increase of 20 per cent. In 2010, he saw an increase of two per cent.

Other increases included Jay Teichroeb, general manager of economic development and planning, and Mark Taylor, general manager of parks, recreation and culture, who both received 15 per cent more. In 2010, Teichroeb’s and Taylor’s earnings went up seven per cent and two per cent, respectively. Teichroeb earned $192,148 in 2011 while Taylor received $185,279.

Jim Gordon, general manager of engineering and utilities, received 14 per cent more (to $200,129) compared to two per cent in 2010.

Pizzuto, the city’s highest paid employee, earned $249,005 in 2011 – approximately a 9.75 per cent increase in income from 2010. That year, he had an increase of 7.5 per cent.

Abbotsford council does not approve individual staff income levels, other than Pizzuto’s.

“Council approves the range, then we decide where people go within the range,” said Pizzuto.

“You will find next year that most general managers are at their maximum so next year they will get no increase.”

Pizzuto noted that the higner incomes were not all based on salary upgrades. Other factors can impact overall earnings, including the option to cash out up to two weeks of holidays.

In the case of fire department staff, overtime can also play a part in the increase.

Pizzuto also said some employees saw an income change because their job titles and duties changed.

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said rising pay for city workers is not just an Abbotsford issue, although he classified the city’s increases in the high range.

Based on information he has received, Bateman said, with the exception of Penticton, all B.C. municipalities have seen significant increases.

“Nanaimo is having a major issue right now,” he said.

On the other end of the scale, Penticton saw its list of employees making $75,000 or higher drop this year. (Abbotsford’s went up, from 178 in 2010 to 211 in 2011.)

Bateman said a core services review took place in Penticton, revealing areas where savings could be realized.

“There are a lot of mayors looking at what Penticton’s doing to see if it’s something they can do in their own communities.”

Abbotsford is also planning to perform a core service review in the coming months.

“Given Abbotsford’s continuing battle with tax increases, I don’t know if many people in Abbotsford feel they’re getting great value for their property tax dollars.

“You can find 1,000 excuses to give employees money. The bottom line is it’s still money coming out of taxpayers’ pockets,” Bateman said.

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