The City of Revelstoke paid approximately $740,000 more in wages for 2020 compared to 2019.
According to its Statement of Financial Information, the city paid $7.6 million in wages for 2020 compared to $6.9 million the year prior, which is an increase of approximately 11 per cent.
In the last 10 years, total wages paid by the city increased 33 per cent. Wages increased by only approximately 3.5 per cent in 2019. Data prior to 2011 is not easily accessible.
Since 2011, inflation in Canada has gone up roughly two percent each year.
At the start of the pandemic, the city laid off non-essential staff in various departments for several weeks.
The Review has reached out to the city asking why there was a significant increase of wages paid out in 2020.
Tania McCabe, director of finance for the city, said that an additional pay period in 2020 (due to how the calendar falls), back-pay of increased wages from the time when the union contract expired at the end of 2018 to when it was ratified in February 2020, as well as the two per cent raise in 2020, accounts for almost of the increase (all but $10,000).
|A reconciliation of wages paid in 2019 versus 2020. (City of Revelstoke)|
The Statement of Financial Information, which includes wages of named employees above $75,000, is published each June as required by law from the province.
The highest earner for 2020 was CAO Dawn Low at $146,720. While total payments by the city to those earning more than $75,000 (which is mostly managers) jumped by 34 per cent, payments to employees that made less than $75,000 dropped by almost five per cent.
In total, 18 city employees made more than $100,000. While the director of corporate administration, Curtis Slingerland, only worked at the city for five months last year, he earned a salary of more than $78,000.
In total, city council cost approximately $118,000 in wages — an increase of approximately $30,000 in 10 years — with Mayor Gary Sulz earning roughly $35,000 and each councillor $16,000.
Overall, the city spent $24.5 million on their operating expenses in 2020, compared to $23.2 million in 2019. Ten years ago, in 2011, the city was spending $18.6 million a year.
The city also spent around $12.4 million on capital projects in 2020 compared to around $5.7 million in 2019; however, they also received around $11.5 million in grant funds for projects, compared to $5.7 million in 2019.
Compared to other cities
A look at other available Statements of Financial Information showed multiple cities in the Interior and Southern B.C., did not see a similar large wage increase for municipal employees during 2020.
Last year, the City of Castlegar paid almost six per cent more in wages compared to 2019. According to Statistics Canada, the city is similar in size to Revelstoke.
Cranbrook — which has a population more than twice the size of Revelstoke — spent only approximately four per cent more in wages in 2020 than 2019.
By comparison, Summerland — which is slightly larger than Revelstoke — paid employees eight per cent less last year than in 2019.
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