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Vernon payroll over $21M

The City of Vernon spent over $21 million to pay 305 city employees in 2013.

Of those 305, 84 employees, or 27 per cent of them, made over $75,000 with the top earner, Chief Administrative Officer Will Pearce bringing in just over $172,000 (before expenses).

Thirty of those higher earners had an annual income over $100,000 including administration (4), firefighters (20), finance (1), engineering (1), community development (3) and operations (1).

Vernon’s Mayor Rob Sawatzky earned just over $63,000 and claimed $3,315 in expenses in 2013. While City Councillor’s earned around $20,000 each with Councillor Catherine Lord having the highest expenses on council at $5,244.

Councillor Juliette Cunningham claimed $3,223 in expenses, Councillor Mary Jo O’Keefe claimed $889, Councillor Brian Quiring claimed $687 while Councillor Bob Spiers and passed Patrick Nicol claimed zero expenses.

Vernon’s total taxation collected in 2013 was $27,750,000 which include ‘tax supported expenditures’ of which 33.75 per cent go to Operation Services, 16.89 per cent to RCMP, 20.30 per cent to General Government, 13.74 per cent to Sanitary Sewer, 5.51 per cent to Planning and Engineering Services, and 26.69% to Protective Services.

Although wages may seen high, the City of Kelowna released their numbers last week and Vernon’s numbers are comparable for its size.

Kelowna employs 772 full time employees of which 105 make over $100,000. Their highest paid staffer, Ron Mattiussi, City Manager made $258,728 in 2013.

Here are the top 10 wage earners (before expenses) in 2013:

  • Will Pearce, Chief Administrative Officer - $172,635
  • Keith Green, Vernon Fire Chief - $131,455
  • Brent H. Bond, Vernon Fire Rescue Captain - $130,671
  • Reinhard Mann, Vernon Fire Rescue Captain - $130,332
  • Kimberly Flick, Director of Community Development Services - $125,010
  • Robert Dickinson, Director of Engineering/GIS Services - $123,883
  • Dan Walker, Vernon Fire Rescue Captain - $123,620
  • Kevin Bertles, Director of Financial Services - $120,394 
  • Shirley Koenig, Director of Operation Services - $119,398
  • Darren Cecchini, Vernon Fire Rescue Captain - $117,712 

If the number of firefighters making over $100,000 surprises you, there is a reason. Brent Bond, President of the Vernon Professional Firefighter's Association, says there are more members making more money than in 2013 , but that can be attributed to the retroactive salary payments made to firefighters last year.

Bond says firefighters were without a contract in 2010 and 2011, and were finally paid in full last year, inflating their wages.

“We were without a contract for those years and then we resolved our collective agreement in 2012. But we had to wait for payment until everyone in the lower mainland's wages were settled in 2013, because we tie our wages to the majority of firefighters in BC.”

Bond also adds that firefighters work longer hours than most city employees and work more overtime, which makes their wage on paper seem high, but not when you look at hourly wages.

“The average city employee works a 35-hour work week, while we work a 42-hour work week on average -- sometimes even more. Our pay is based on an average work week of 42-hours, so if you were to take our salary and break it down to an hourly rate it is less than most trades people,” he says.

Bond also feels it's pertinent to note that the City of Vernon chooses to operate with minimum staffing levels for firefighters and when they are short-staffed they choose to use overtime to make up for the staffing levels.

Along with $21M in wages, the City of Vernon also paid out $1.37M in consulting fees, $401,000 in grants and $84.7M for goods and services

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