Red Deer’s own “sunshine” list reveals that 120 city employees make more than $100,000 annually.
The City of Red Deer provided a list to the Advocate of the 80 unique jobs that come with an annual base salary of more than $100,000.
City Manager Craig Curtis is the highest paid with his $237,719 paycheque followed by Director of Development Services Paul Goranson, who makes between $147,254 and $184,064. The Director of Community Services (currently vacant), Director of Corporate Services Elaine Vincent and Director of Planning Kim Fowler all make between $138,052 and $172,573.
The Advocate requested the list in light of the province’s recent “sunshine list” disclosure of public servants that make over $100,000.
While Red Deer city council has not discussed the possibility of disclosing the salaries on a regular basis, most councillors were open to the idea.
Mayor Tara Veer said the City of Red Deer is a public organization and there is some expectation that any aspect of the business is subject to public scrutiny. She said it is not unreasonable to explore the option of posting the information at a high executive level. She also noted the information is available upon request.
“In looking at the list it’s about slightly less than 10 per cent of the overall (staffing),” said Veer. “At a leadership level, I think it is reasonable to expect there is higher compensation.”
Veer said council needs to be mindful that the organization does not become “top heavy.”
She said council must find the right balance of having effective leadership while remaining fiscally responsible and accountable to taxpayers.
Veer said over the years council has tried to increase the overall transparency of the organization, including posting the mayor and council’s expenses on its website.
Coun. Lynne Mulder said she is fine with releasing the information because the positions are quite comparable across the country.
“When I look at that list I don’t see anybody that is excessive,” said Mulder. “You get what you pay for. We’re aren’t going to be able to attract people if we pay less than they do in other places.”
Mulder said she does not see any reason why the list shouldn’t be public because the organization is transparent and wants to continue to be.
Coun. Frank Wong added a list would shed some light on what the employees make because often people think the city staff are paid more than in other jurisdictions.
Likewise Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said there is no reason why the city shouldn’t disclose the salaries as long as it is done in a respectful way without attaching the names. She said the important thing is to respect the privacy of employees.
“Sunshine lists are fine,” she said. “It’s taxpayers’ dollars and we should know where those salaries are going and for what positions.”
Wyntjes said the responsibility and the education that are required for some positions are relative to what is paid in the private sector.
“I always find when you have post-secondary education, those comparisons are usually very similar in terms of attraction and recruitment,” said Wyntjes.
Coun. Paul Harris said he would be okay releasing a salary range for specific positions. Harris said it does not sit well with him to release a person’s name and his or her salary for privacy reasons.
Coun. Tanya Handley said she is fine with releasing the public employee salaries.
“I don’t have a problem with that type of disclosure being that the taxpayers are the ones who are footing the bill for the employees,” said Handley. “In theory I don’t have a problem with it at all. I think it adds to transparency.”
Staffing accounts for 40 per cent or $122 million of a $305-million operational budget. There are 1,400 employees on the city payroll.
The city monitors the competitive positions by participating in salary surveys and compensation-related website resources, networking with public and private sector human resource colleagues, analyzing sector specific data and gathering feedback from recruitment related sources.
10 highest paid City of Red Deer employees:
l City manager Craig Curtis – $237,719
l Director of Development Services Paul Goranson – $147,254 to $184,064
l Director of Community Services (vacant) – $138,052 to $172,573
l Director of Corporate Services Elaine Vincent – $138,052 to $172,573
l Director of Planning Kim Fowler – $138,052 to $172,573
l Chief Financial Officer Dean Krejci – $117,940 to $147,419
l City solicitor Michelle Baer – $117,940 to $147,419
l Director of Communications and Strategic Planning – Julia Harvie-Shemko $117,940 to $147,419
l Director of Human Resources Kristy Svoboda – $117,940 to $147,419
l Emergency Services Manager Jack MacDonald – $117,940 to $147,419