Every year I’ve tried to make a habit of tracking how much salaries are going up in Whistler and the communities to which it compares itself for wage parity. This year I was able to get four communities in particular, which are listed at the bottom, but I wasn’t able to obtain the salaries for the District of West Vancouver, which didn’t return a request for their information.
Whistler staff making over $75,000 grows from 69 to 78 people, up from 61 in 2008
By Jesse Ferreras
Pay for public servants at the Resort Municipality of Whistler jumped almost 12 per cent in 2010, the year in which the community hosted the Olympic Winter Games.
The municipality’s Statements of Financial Information, which must be submitted to the provincial government by June 30 every year as per a requirement under the Financial Information Act, show that remuneration for public employees jumped about 12 per cent, to $22,692,407.03, in 2010 from $20,278,306.25 in 2009. The number of people making over $75,000 jumped from 69 to 78. That’s up from 61 in 2008.
Remuneration, it should be said, doesn’t just include salary. For various employees it could also include employee and employer portions of Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions; health benefits and taxes deducted from a paycheque. The report does not take into account wages and expenses that were paid to the Resort Municipality of Whistler by the province for approved overtime that was incurred during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The reason that so many remunerations appear above $75,000, said human resources manager Denise Wood, is that employees could have received additional pay for working overtime or getting a new certification that makes them more valuable as employees.
“I can’t go into the rationale behind the numbers,” she said in an interview. “They received some sort of additional pay that made them over the $75,000 mark where they weren’t previously, or they possibly went up in a step.
“There’s five steps in some of the position paydowns, perhaps going up a step might have made their salary over the $75,000.”
The highest paid employee at the municipality in 2010 was James Godfrey, who retired in June of that year after serving as administrator and later executive director of Whistler’s 2010 Games Office. He took home $322,971.89, an increase over remuneration of $239,499.46 in 2009.
Though she wouldn’t explain precisely why Godfrey’s pay went up so much, Wood said he could have been paid out for vacation time he didn’t use. She flatly denied that Godfrey got a retirement bonus.
“There’s no bonuses,” Wood said. “The municipality doesn’t pay out any bonuses at all, retiring or otherwise.”
The next highest-paid employee was Administrator Bill Barratt, who took home $208,674.06 in remuneration. His salary went up from $201,106.58 in 2009. Beneath him was Jan Jansen, the municipality’s general manager of resort experience, whose pay actually went down between 2009 and 2010, to $152,974.54 from $156,584.58.
Nine employees were welcomed to the $75,000 club this year; five of them were firefighters who previously weren’t listed among the highest earning municipal employees.
One firefighter inspector who previously wasn’t listed made $120,937.91, while another made $116,826.02. That means each of these employees made at least $40,000 more in 2010 than they did in 2009. Yet another firefighter inspector made $114,642.02 while a fourth made $97,917.51.
In total 24 firefighters – nearly a third of the total – made the list, all but three of them making over $100,000.
Wood said the remuneration was likely due to firefighters working overtime during the Olympics.
“Definitely with firefighters, with the Games, there was quite a bit more overtime than normal, so there is more firefighters than normal,” she said. “Some of them may have as well had their (salary) increase. They have steps, some of them do acting (positions), other roles, that may have been why.”
The list of salaries also includes Keith Bennett at $158,641 for 2010 even though he left the municipality to take on the top role at Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies. According to Wood, the RMOW pay shis wages but is paid back that amount when the WSL receives its annual funding.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler looks to six Metro Vancouver municipalities to determine what it pays its employees: the District of North Vancouver, the City of Coquitlam, the City of North Vancouver, the City of New Westminster, the District of West Vancouver and the District Corporation of Delta.
The municipality has looked to these communities since 1990, when it undertook a wage compensation study seeking relevant comparison communities. It has used these communities for comparisons ever since.
Shachi Krul, provincial director of B.C. and Yukon affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said it was curious that Whistler uses these communities for wage comparison because they serve entirely different populations.
“Let’s look at the population bases compared to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, let’s look at the services that those communities are delivering compared to Whistler,” she said. “I don’t know that that is necessarily a legitimate benchmark to say we’re going to tie ourselves to the City of Coquitlam or the City of New Westminster. These are much bigger population bases.”
Pique examined Statements of Financial Information for the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, the City of New Westminster and the City of Coquitlam, and found that out of all these communities, Whistler and the City of North Vancouver are the only ones seeing remunerations for employees go up in 2010. Others have seen small drops in remuneration compared to increases in previous years.
Remunerations for employees at the City of North Vancouver went from $29,177,964.58 to $30,854,372.93 in 2010. The number of people making over $75,000 climbed from 125 to 143 staffers.
The City of Coquitlam, for example, saw payroll drop from $59,220,491 in 2009 to $58,613,989 last year. That was after payroll jumped from $53,339,458 in 2008, a year in which 88 people joined the ranks of staffers making $75,000 a year.
The District of North Vancouver, meanwhile, saw payroll drop from $42,960,250 in 2009 to $42,303,685 in 2010. This was after payroll jumped from a 2008 level of $38,291,390 and added 100 staffers to the upper echelon of government wages in the same period. There were 228 staffers making over $75,000 in 2010 compared to 242 in 2009.
Pique also requested the Statements of Financial Information from Squamish, but was informed that the District of Squamish missed the deadline. They will provide the numbers in the next week as they come available.
District of North Vancouver
Remuneration (2010): $42,303,685
Remuneration (2009): $42,960,250
Change: – $656,565
Staff making over $75,000 (2010): 228
Staff making over $75,000 (2009): 242
City of North Vancouver
Remuneration (2010): $30,854,372
Remuneration (2009): $29,177,964
Staff making over $75,000 (2010): 143
Staff making over $75,000 (2009): 125
City of New Westminster
Remuneration (2010): $40,430,379
Remuneration (2009): $40,736,989
Staff making over $75,000 (2010): 182
Staff making over $75,000 (2009): 178
City of Coquitlam
Remuneration (2010): $58,613,989
Remuneration (2009): $59,220,491
Staff making over $75,000 (2010): 248
Staff making over $75,000 (2009): 240
– with files from Andrew Mitchell