Thirty-one staff members working for the City of Prince Rupert earn more than $100,000.
The city’s Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) was presented in the June 12 council meeting, and the report is free and open to the public.
The city employs 257 full and part-time staff, 65 of whom earn more than $75,000 — 31 earn more than $100,000. Since the 2015 statement, the number of public works employees earning more than $100,000 went up by two people and the number of employees earning more than $75,000 went up by 13 people.
The total payroll in 2016 was $6.57 million for city employees making more than $75,000 out of the total $13.56 million for public works wages. That total is up 16 per cent from the previous year.
Each year, the city prepares the statement in compliance with the Financial Information Act, requiring the city to list the amount of remuneration for each employee that exceeds $75,000 (including expenses).
The top five earners in the city are:
Robert Long – City Manager:
Dave Mckenzie – Fire Chief:
Corrine Bomben – Chief Financial Officer: $148,382
Jeffery Beckwith – Deputy Fire Chief: $137,023
Rocky Joseph Paolo – Fire Dept.: $134,669
The top five total $822,590 in public spending for City of Prince Rupert staff salaries.
But how does this compare to other cities of similar population?
Parksville, B.C. On Vancouver Island has a population of 12,514 compared to Prince Rupert’s 12,220 (according to the most recent Statistics Canada data).
Parskville’s statement of financial information reflects that of the 74 full and part time employees, 24 earn more than $75,000 and nine staff earn more than $100,000.
The top five earners in Parksville are:
Debbie Comis – City Manager: $154,239
Vaughn Figueira – Dir. Engineering: $132,133
Marc Noris – Fire Chief: $126,949
Gordon Butterworth – Dir. Finance: $122,550
Mike Squire – Dir. of Operations: $117,720
The top five total $653,591 out of $5,600,164 in public spending for City of Parksville staff salaries.
While the differences between the two seemingly similar cities (based on population) seem drastic, it’s important to mention that there are factors at play to explain the differences in remuneration.
“Parksville is not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison of communities,” said Veronika Stewart, communications manager for Prince Rupert. “Despite similarities in population, Prince Rupert has many more services offered to our residents, and the servicing area is much larger.”
Stewart cited the arena, landfill, airport and airport ferry service, performing arts centre, museum, local emergency dispatch service and full-time fire department as services the city provides, which Parksville does not.
She also said that many of the cities higher paid employees are full-time firefighters.
“[They] regularly put themselves at risk responding to local emergencies, beyond just fire response,” she said. “This higher ‘danger pay’ is common for full-time municipal fire departments.”
Deb Tardiff, manager of communications for Parksville echoed some of the differences between cities.
“The Regional District of Nanaimo manages recreation services for the [Parksville] region, so no city staff are involved in the operation of the local arena and programming,” she said. Adding that Parksville operates an on-call fire department, does not operate a marina or include policing/RCMP staff in their numbers.
While comparing the two may not be apples to apples, comparing Prince Rupert to itself a year prior shows the city actually spent less $11,670 less on public employee salaries in 2016 than in 2015.
However, training and related travel expenses for city employees making more than $75,000 a year jumped from $45,853 in 2015 to $101,768 in 2016 — up 222 per cent.