Sixteen fewer city workers earned over $75,000 last year than in 2010, as some of the cuts recommended in a core services review finally showed up on the books.
The City of Penticton’s 2011 statement of financial information, released earlier this month, listed 59 staffers who earned $75,000 or better for a total of $5.5 million, down significantly from the 75 who pocketed $7.1 million in 2010.
“That definitley bucks the trend in B.C.,” said Jordan Bateman, provincial director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “I don’t know of any other agency in B.C. that’s seen a reduction in highly paid staff.”
The contentious core services review resulted in dozens of layoffs and a leaner operating structure, but was necessary to get the city’s fiscal affairs in order, said Mayor Dan Ashton.
“In the country as a whole, we’ve had to pull our horns in, and the city has done that and there have been substantial changes.”
City manager Annette Antoniak earned $160,665 in 2011, which made her Penticton’s highest-paid staffer, followed by electric utility foreman Gregory Miller, who collected $133,785, and operations director Mitch Moroziuk at $130,748.
The newest city staff member, Colleen Pennington, is set to earn $80,000 annually when she begins work next month as Penticton’s economic development officer.
Just over half of the names on the 2011 list are associated with the Penticton Fire Department.
Meanwhile, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, which released its latest statement Thursday, counted 11 workers in the $75,000-and-up bracket who grossed a total of $960,908. That’s up from 2010, when nine people collected $779,605.
Chief administrative officer Bill Newell remained atop the list in 2011, with a salary of $130,310, followed by public works manager Doug French, who pulled down $98,975. That represented a 31 per cent raise for French, who said the increase resulted when his job was combined with an engineering manager position in 2010.
Ashton, who also chairs the RDOS board, saw his two incomes combine for a 2011 total of $97,960, down from $104,180 in election-shortened 2010.
In defence of his salaries, Ashton said he regularly puts in 60-hour weeks and works tirelessly on behalf of citizens in both jurisdictions.
“Am I worth it? Well, that’s up to the people.”
Bateman thinks so.
“Being a mayor is the kind of job where you just can’t turn it off. You’re out constantly, you’re the face of the community, and I think mayors should be compensated for the work they’re doing,” he said.
“What we don’t like about mayor and council salaries is that one-third of (earnings) are tax free,” said Bateman, adding that is a relic from the days when politicians paid expenses out of their own pockets.
Ashton last year billed the RDOS for expenses totalling $4,376, while he charged just $2,225 to the city. He explained that the RDOS is funded partly by the city, so conferences he attends in a dual role are usually billed to the regional district.
The top-spending city councillor in 2011 was Mike Pearce, who expensed $2,947 and was not re-elected, followed by Garry Litke at $1,637 and Andrew Jakubeit at $1,133.
The full-term councillors all collected pay of $20,825, except for Pearce, who grossed $19,984.
After Ashton, the top earners at the RDOS board table in 2011 were former Naramata director Tom Chapman, who earned $31,827, followed by rural Osoyoos director Mark Pendergraft at $27,045, and rural Oliver director Allan Patton at $26,596.
Patton also had the highest expense total, at $11,520, followed by former rural Keremeos director Elef Christensen at $9,917, and Chapman with $9,677.