Mayor Nenshi and council: Here’s the money!

Dave 07

An open letter to Mayor Nenshi and Calgary City Council

This spring, Calgary taxpayers received some welcome news! Your bureaucrats sent us our – on average – much larger property tax bill. But apparently you and the bureaucracy, by dint of much hard work and a line by line search for efficiencies, found $50 million in savings over the next four years, or our tax bill would have been even higher.

12 ½ million dollars a year! Let’s see; out of a budget of 2.2 billion, that’s uuuummm – a little over one half of 1%. Suddenly I’m somewhat less excited, but again, thanks for the great effort. Now I’d like to contribute an idea for further savings that I’m sure that you and Council will be anxious to get right to work on.

Last fall I got an email from a friend. The thread is verbatim except where I removed a couple of sentences that were not on topic.

Hi Dave
Yesterday at the car show & shine a few of the guys were talking about an opening for a parts man with the City. (Calgary) They said it paid $33 or 52 X40 X $33 = $68,640 
Another guy added: “and the pretty nice pension in addition”.

That seems to me to be pretty fine pay for a parts man who 10 yrs. ago would make maybe $30,000.

Can you check on this with the auto supply person (ASP)that you know?
Friend

So I asked the ASP

“What is a good parts person worth?”

Dave

He said
“We recently lost a parts guy to the city (Calgary). I tried what I could to keep him but he told me it was “stupid” money they were offering him and could not say no. At the time we were paying him $23 per hour.

We now are paying $25 for our top guys that have been with us for over 6 years. We cannot compete with the city because of the wage, but the big thing is the pension.”
ASP

I then asked if the thread could be made public, and he said yes. So I did some more checking and the $33 an hour number for the City was accurate because it was on the City’s website. The industry standard at the time was $24-$25 an hour.

So, for partsmen at least, the City of Calgary is paying about 40% over industry standards, plus the usual gold-plated benefits and pension plan.

Calgary’s annual budget is about 2.2 billion and approximately half of that is wages and salaries, or $1.1 billion. So I  calculated that if Calgary pays its employees just 20% above industry standards it works out to over $200 million a year in excess wages .

Shortly thereafter, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, (CFIB), released a detailed study they had carried out in cities across Canada. http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/article/7342-municipal-wage-watch.html

Their research showed that the City of Calgary is paying an average of 19% above industry standard  wages and benefits, or over $200 million per year.

It used to be that “civil servants” took a slightly lower wage to compensate for greater job security, and better benefits and pensions. Apparently those days are long gone; gone in Calgary by at least $200 million per year..

Calgary CounclSo your Worship, and Councillors; that now decidedly unimpressive $12.5 million per year that you’ve managed to scrape up is what you overpay city employees every three weeks. Overpaying with tax dollars collected from ordinary citizens, and ironically, small private companies that have to try to compete with the city for landscape labourers, and construction workers, and Zamboni drivers, and yes, partsmen.

Every five years, that’s a billion dollars of our money that you are wasting; money that could be used to pay for transit, infrastructure upgrades, maybe even useful signage for our roads.

Our 1.5 billion portion of the green line could be completely paid for in 8 years, instead of 30 years.

Could you please explain what you intend to do about this waste of tax dollars?

Very sincerely

Dave Reesor

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