City Hall Salary Shocker! New CFO lands gold-plated perks

Post by Mike Klassen in

11 comments

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What will Vancouver taxpayers think of their new CFO's gold-plated contract?

A freedom of information request by CityCaucus.com has revealed an extremely generous compensation package for the City's new Chief Financial Officer Patrice Impey that will surely raise the blood pressure of homeowners bracing for a record-breaking 8% tax increase. The news of the exhorbitant pay follows on the heels of the news reported by the estimable Gary Mason over at the Globe and Mail on former CFO Estelle Lo's $450,000 severance package.

The details of Impey's pay package are outlined in her offer of employment letter which you can download here. The highlights are:

  • Of a possible salary range of $179,171 to $223,969, Ms. Impey is receiving the top pay scale, maxxed out at $223,969
  • Ms. Impey will be receiving benefit entitlements reflecting 20 years of service
  • Once she has completed 3 months of employment, Patrice Impey qualifies for one-year full salary if she is released for any reason

However, the devil is in the details as they say, and while a $224K salary might not seem too over the top for a CFO, the benefits Ms. Impey qualifies for put her into the stratosphere when it comes to executive civil service pay packages.

According to the Exempt Employee Handbook (copy available here), the bible for all benefits and perks for City staff, as a "20 year employee" Ms. Impey qualifies for 10 weeks vacation right off the bat! The pro-rated value of 10 weeks based upon her salary is $45,000 per year.

That's two and a half months vacation per year before even working a few weeks at City Hall. Of course, any time not used for this vacation is accrued and paid out as a lump sum upon leaving her position.

To top it off, Ms. Impey will receive a public service pension based upon 20 long years in the public service, without so much as having to work her way up the ladder and suffering the slings and arrows that other public servants endure.

This is how the politicians really stick it to the taxpayers, especially at the City of Vancouver. Instead of transparently listing the full cost of an employee like Ms. Impey at over $300,000 per year (the rough value of her compensation, plus vacation and other perks), they "hide" the real cost of these rich pay packages. Until something changes, we'll continue to see more outcomes like when Estelle Lo, Judy Rogers and others leave City Hall with armloads of cash.

We ask, why not just show what these people are getting paid instead of masking it? Part of the answer lies in a City Council who are sending signals that they are cutting costs, when they're really doing nothing of the sort.

Maureen Bader, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has a few choice words on the news of Patrice Impey's gold-plated, perk-laden pay package. "You have to be on a different planet – a happy planet – to award 20 years of benefits to a new employee," says Bader. "City Hall is out of touch with the concerns of property tax paying citizens. If you thought the property tax hike was outrageous this year, just wait until next year. We have businesses struggling to make payroll, and here we have City Hall offering such generous pay and perk packages."

Bader and her organization are calling upon senior levels of government to install a "property tax cap" on all municipalities to curb what she labels "out of control spending."

The current City Council, who hires the City's CFO, would have signed off on Ms. Impey's contract. Due to the complexities of Vancouver civil service perks, we may never know until after Ms. Impey leaves City Hall the full extent of her compensation. We'll quote heavily from Mason's excellent article below, which starts to detail a byzantine list of benefits that employees are entitled to.

Let's start with vacation. Employees at the city of Vancouver, unionized and management, are entitled to 30 days of vacation after 24 years. (Ms. Lo, who had worked at city hall for 10 years, was entitled to 20 days off). That isn't out of line with the private sector, but if you work at city hall you can carry over vacation time from one year to the next and cash out any unused portion when you want to. (City employees also get five days of supplementary vacation in the 11th year and every five years after).

These days, most businesses in Canada insist workers use up their vacation by year's end or lose it - with no option to cash out unused time.

Staff at the city of Vancouver also get 11 paid statutory holidays a year.

Then there are "gratuity days."

All city hall staff, including managers with free cars, get a credit of three working days off per year for each year of service up to a maximum of 120 days off. Just for showing up to work. They can cash these in, too, if they wish.

There are also "earned days off." For working an additional half hour a day (which would make for a 40-hour work week), an employee can get an additional 18 days off a year.

Add it up and managers who have been at city hall 10 years can take months off a year if they want to. Or they can tack on thousands of dollars more to their year-end paycheques by cashing unused time owed.

(All staff can accumulate sick-leave credits too. Workers are allowed 10 sick days a year at full pay. They can accumulate sick-day credits up to 261 days).

Rest assured, this current government and its City Manager, who were bought and paid for by the public sector unions, have no political will to change any of these conditions. Mayor Robertson promised to "review" these terms, but you can kiss that goodbye.

Vancouver taxpayers who were duped by CUPE's Sam's Strike rhetoric in 2007 are only now starting to understand the true impact on their wallets of letting public sector unions run the show.

11 Comments

It is becoming clear that you folks at CityCaucus.com just don't understand. You see the money at City Hall isn;t Dr Ballem's money and it isn't Gregor's money. It just comes from the taxpayers and there is ore where that came from. No harm in spending it because it doesn't affect profits.
On the other hand, after the performance of Vision in Q1, and their disrespect for the previous contributions of senior staff, why would anyone come to work there without an abnormally high salary and retention package? It is just taxpayers money you know.

If Sam Sullivan were mayor, I guarantee you your tune would be different - these gentlemen would be waxing eloquent about how you need to pay a decent salary and benefits to attract the best and brightest.

Lest we forget this "salary shocker" about your gordfather: Gordon Campbell raised his own salary in 2006 by 54% and senior bureaucrat's wages by up to 43%. I'm not saying he didn't deserve it. Are you?

I'm waiting for the "but this is different" defence...

From now on Sam Sullivan references will hereby be appended by the phrase "The Left's Boogie Man."

That is all.

...and all references to the fast ferries will be appended with "The Right's Boogie Boats"!

Doesn't anyone realize how much 20 years of retirement benefits is? This is madness!!!!!
20 years X 2% times average of peak 5 years. That means she gets 40% of $225k......Forever!!
The woman is guaranteed $100k/year forever. day 1.
That's $3mil if she lives till like age 90.
It's criminal.

The benefits for all City employees are waaay out of line from most private sector organizations.
I don't see why so much needs to be offered as most have/do/are willing to work for less, if they are working these days at all.
Just a bottomless pit of taxpayer money to mine

Here's is what I think is the most interesting piece to the puzzle. I think the lack of a competent CFO at the helm of the City's finances for who knows how long has been an acute achilles heel. The most significant decisions about the City's finances (perhaps in the history of its existence) have been made without a CFO over the past few months. Its not the bloated salary I am concerned with but rather the fact that I suspect the new CFO will simply be a spokes-model for Penny Ballem's micromanagement economics 101. I am not sure the big salary is going to amount to a balanced approach to how the City is run. Her learning curve is so steep right now, the City is a long way off from having someone in place that can effectively manage the tax dollars we all work so hard to pay for.

This is just sick. The city of Van was able to hire someone like Estelle Lo (former CFO of City) without any of these 20 yr perks and she did a good job the past 10 yrs.

So I don't buy this "we need to entice the new CFO to come bullshit". It is nothing more than political bullshit like the AIG bonuses.

Consider all the championing of details and their importance on your website, you could at least spend a few pennies on copy editing. "Heals" - are you serious? That takes two seconds to edit.

Thanks. We've sent a whole floor of proofreaders home without their final paycheck paycheque. Send us your resume.

It feels a bit like falling into a swamp and being attacked by leeches.

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