Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coming soon, time to pay the piper

Last week at the council meeting the head of finance was giving the council an update on the financial state of the municipality to the middle of August. Within that discussion somebody pointed out that there is an almost $300,000 liability for accumulated sick time for the municipal staff, a couple of other councilors seemed unaware of this. Which surprised me in the sense that this number appears in the annual municipal financial statements every year, which council just reviewed three months ago.

For the benefit of my readers where does this come from?

Municipal employees hired after July 1 2008 receive one and a half sick days per month (prior to that it was two days per month this was changed during the bargaining process at that time). If they do not use these days they get to accumulate them up to a maximum of 120 days, which they are then paid out on a 50% basis when they retire. (For example 60 days times 8 hours @ approx $30 per hour equals $14,400 per employee). The difficulty with this benefit is that after an employee has been with the town for less than seven years the 120 days are accumulated and in some cases it becomes an additional 18 days a year off. If they do not use them they lose them, there is simply no incentive to not use them.

Now they are aware maybe this council will have some ideas to deal with this issue.

The next issue related to this and where it becomes increasing difficult to manage the municipal finances especially when the workforce is expanding is the cost of payroll. I am told that the town of Pincher Creek’s employees just turned down a three year contract with a wage increase of 3%, 2.5% and 2.75%. The Municipalities contract with CUPE is up at the end of the year, applying those same increases to the Pass would see some huge additional costs. In the 2010 financial statement (which would not cover the new positions created this year total cost of Salaries, Wages and Benefits was $4,923,486 increase those numbers by the percentages above 2012 would go to $5,071,191, 2013 $5,197,970, and 2014 $5,340,915.

That’s an additional $839,618 over the next three years or to put it in very simple terms it would take an average increase of 2.4% in taxes each year to accommodate those additional costs. Several factors that will come in to play here; the impact of the new positions created this year, maybe Cupe will be willing to accept less in this round of bargaining than they would in Pincher and surrounding areas. Or the workforce through gains in efficiencies will shrink enough to offset any additional wage increases.

Just some things to think about especially if there is further consideration to increase the municipal workforce.


Anonymous said...

Good option Cupe not taking a raise.

Anonymous said...

Dean read todays promoter.
Couple of things I'm sure council said there would be no cost on putting together the mayors task force report all being done by volunteers. In todays paper it states that they agreed to Pay Janet Hyde $5000.
Not bad work if you can get it, taking a bunch of recommendations from previous reports and putting them into a NEW study.
Also there is an article about the libraries being combined the Chairman of the board stated that they will still be spending the same money without the Bellevue library. So why did they close the Bellevue library?
Can anybody tell me what this council has done in almost a year to become more efficient and reduce the costs of running the municipality?


Anonymous said...

At the mines we don't have a sick plan anywhere near that.

Anonymous said...

$5000 is a small price to pay for all the good that this council will bring to our community.
CUPE won't know what hit them when these guys are done with them. The good times are coming to an end.

Anonymous said...

Straying off topic, but $5000 for the "volunteer" "Mayors Economic Task Force" ???

What we needed is people with expertise in economic development who could look at things like:

-age and education demographics of CNP.

-distance to markets, airports, etc.

-available industrial sites.

-competition - what other towns have done and what advantages we might have to attract.

-is there any chance of resource or "smokestack" industries coming back?

The Mayor's pals may be rich in general experience but they did not consider these issues.

I naively hoped that they would produce some "out of the box" thinking, such as "why shouldn't we become a Canmore" (since we are already becoming a poor-man's Canmore). Or how about Dave McIntyre's vision of a haven for the mega-rich. Or a Costa Rica style eco-diversity attraction?

But the "Task Force" merely produced a Readers Digest of previous reports, with a few amateurish suggestions to tinker with "business as Usual".

A study by economic development experts would have cost a lot more than $5000, so I guess we got off easy.

-Keith M

peter rosner said...

Hello Dean i have been quite busy and not much time for blogging lately by the looks of things not much has "changed" recently. On the subject of sick pay this was raised on a previous post that you had last year during the budget process. I did a little research at that time and was shocked at the more than generous payouts for sick pay and overall sick pay benefits for municipal employees. I do not begrudge anyone to make a decent living as i am a union man but i do not support abuse.

Anonymous said...

Peter, You are a funny man.The miners do so much better than the cnp employees. You say you researched the sick pay plan and you are shocked.Did you know that this plan is actaully their short term disability plan?

Crowsnest Pass Home said...

No question this is the employees short term disability program. The orginial post was not written with the intention to attack any one.

Municipal employees deserve short term disability just as much as the next guy. Any Union worth a dam would strive to gain the best benefits it could for its members.
But the balance to that is that management and the council of the time must represent the best interests of the taxpayers in the process of bargaining.

The problem with the plan is that the 1.5 days a month goes on as long as the person works for the municipality even after the 120 days are accumalated.

According to stats canada the average number of days lost per worker by illness or disability in Alberta in 2010 was 6.2 days

So based on that fact if a municipal employee banked 12 days a year after 10 years the cap of 120 days would be reached.

At this point there is zero incentive to only take the provincial average of 6.2 days a year.

Thats why three years ago the municipal bargaining team at the time negotiated jointly with CUPE to bring the number of sick days down from two a month to the presnet 1.5.

Where did this whole discussion start because some members of council were surprised that the accumulated sick time was up to $300,000.

peter rosner said...

To anon 8:17 no i was not aware that this was their short term disablity plan. I do not know how their long and short term disability plans are structured. I do know this though unless you have been injured and cannot work 1.5 days a month would be above the industry average. It would be far more time than i have ever missed work (for sickness) while being employed at the mines for over thirty years

Anonymous said...

Peter, I guess you are lucky and healthy.That being said, you said you researched this and apparently you have not. It is simple if you break a leg away from work you start collecting on your bank of sick days.If you do not have eneough to bad for you.So there is a large disadvantage in the early years for employees.After you have accumalated the max the advantage goes to the employee.It is not quite as great as you all think it is.

Anonymous said...

Was there any explanation of the belated $5000 payment, contrary to Mayor Policy Guy's election promise?

CNP's new council was supposed to be all about Communication and Open Government (not to mention Policy) but they seem to have a "none of your business, you're just taxpayers" attitude.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should make all those retreats open to the public.
From what I hear around town there is next to zero debate at council meetings.
Which means decisions are pre determined?

Transparencey my ass!


Anonymous said...


You have to be kidding, when did you last have a situation where an employee broke there leg and did not have enough sick time? lets get real. The advantage with this setup is with the employee today, tomorrow and forever.
I would suggest that maybe you guys got away with this crap with the Four horsemen. You will face reality when you have to deal with "The magnificent seven". They are not puss footing around look at the consolidation of the Coleman Blairmore shop. Wake up and get back to reality.


Anonymous said...

Wayne, I want to live in your world where no one gets hurt or sick for about a 7 year period.Then at last a person can have some peace of mind that they are covered in an emergency.
The MAG 7 as you call them, has so far increased my taxes and my utility bill and has taken away some services.Maybe you should " get real"

Anonymous said...

In the first year you get 18 sick days. Where else can you get 18 days off sick in your first year?

What services have we lost?

This council said no tax increase my taxes did not go up, where is the problem.

Utility bills wow a small increase.

The MAG 7 will indeed change the life of luxury the employees have enjoyed here for a long time.
I have known some of these guys for a long time that are on council now. There is a rude awakening coming.


Anonymous said...

Wayne well said.

I just hope they hire that ecconomic development officer soon and get something going here.


Anonymous said...

Wayne, I see you are still confused.This is there short term disability plan. Most of the employees bank these days for the potential emergency.
As for services lost, reduced snow removal, spring/fall cleanup, Bellevue library are a few that I can think of.
Your taxes may not have gone up, but on average property tax went up over 2%.
The mag7 have been in power for more than 10 months and I am still waiting for them to do something/anything substantial. I actually am hoping they will follow through with a few of the task force recommendations.

Anonymous said...

It will be a challenge, but I truly think this council will be able to over come any hurdles placed in front of them.
The employees, taxpayers and bussiness sector alike must accept that Council like any other bussiness must spend money to make money.
It must also decide its priorities and get to work some folks will not be happy with the changes coming. Our recreation facility must be built no matter what the cost. If we must sacrifice a few minor services to achieve that goal who cares.
Swimm a lap or read a book at the MDM.


Anonymous said...

Well 11:39 you do not think they will take CUPE on over the sick days? Look at what they are doing with the administration that does not tow the line.