Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're taking what they're givin', cause we're workin' for a livin'!

"We're taking what they're givin', cause we're workin' for a livin"-- Huey Lewis and the News and the tribute to the working class a potential soundtrack for the city's salary report from this years budget documentation.

For the growing number of unemployed in Prince Rupert, the city's financial snapshot of this month will help define the increasing gap between those with rewarding financial compensation and those that struggle daily to make ends meet and pay their taxes.

A frequent contributor to the local portal hackingthemainframe has spent some time to peruse those inner pages of the city's financial report this past month and outlined the annual record of compensation for civic employees, helpfully providing a comparison between this years figures and those of a year ago.

The publication of the payroll numbers is a regular feature of the city's budgeting requirements, but one that seldom seems to get much in the way of publication, coming as it does pretty well at the same time as the tax bill comes due in your mail box. It perhaps might be more of a discussion point for the population (and maybe council) if it were to be released earlier in the year, prior to the budget discussions and votes and not just before everyone makes their plans to head out of the city on summer vacations, but such is the way of public disclosure we guess.

This year finds that compensation for those some of those that are on the city payroll went up rather nicely, a helpful nudge for these troubled economic times. And will most likely only fuel the talk in the city's coffee shops about the lottery like luck of those that happen to have landed in the employ of the city.

The numbers provide a listing of the top earners and the remainder of the workforce with the numbers for council thrown in for good measure.

38 Employees found themselves in the reportable line of those that are  making over 75,000 dollars a year, those 38 accounted for $3,549,715 of the pay package of $13,548,637.

The remainder of the city's employees are under the 75,000 dollar threshold and factor in on  the remainder of that pay allotment or $9,919,707, less of course the salaries of our council members which according to the report came in at $79,215.

Compared to last years figures, that's an inrease of $2,437,643, from the money set aside for salaries last year when we paid out $11,111,174 in salaries and expenses.

The latest increase comes once again as the city has increased the amount owed by the dwindling base of taxpayers on property bills. With the population of the city having dropped by almost 50 per cent in the last ten years and the decline of the city's industrial tax base, the seemingly annual increase in that property tax bill is providing for a growing expectation that those taxpayers that are left will continue to shoulder the load.

It's a conundrum which surely must beg the question can a city in such financial straits as these times dictate, still be able to offer up regular pay increases to its employees, without any dedicated discussion within council and among the public that perhaps these times may dictate that the current municipal business model and our expectations from it may have to change .

For those seeking a more indepth purview of the city's financial picture, including salaries and such, the full package is available on the city's website, the salary and compensation information can be found on page 32 of the June 6th agenda for city council.

The Northern View was the first of the local media outlets to highlight the report to council with an item posted to their website.

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