City management wages on par with other B.C. cities, report says

Pay for the City of Prince George's senior staff is largely in line with the pay offered by ten comparable cities in British Columbia, according to a report presented to city council on Monday.

The report, prepared by Sianas Consult Inc. compared the pay and benefits offered by the city for its non-union staff to comparable positions at the municipal governments of Coquitlam, Kelowna, Langley, Saanich, Delta, Nanaimo, Kamloops, North Vancouver, Victoria and Chilliwack. Pay scales from 2019 were used, to avoid any distortions caused by municipal responses to COVID-19.

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"It's always interesting to see where we line up compared to our peer municipalities," Coun. Kyle Sampson said. "So to see that we're in the ballpark in most of our areas is reassuring."

When looking at pay alone, city managers made between 87 per cent and 105 per cent of the median pay from the comparable cities, the consultant report said. 

However, most of the managers at comparable cities worked 35 hours weeks, while in Prince George senior staff work 37.5 hours per week. When that was factored in, Prince George senior staff only made between 83 per cent and 99 per cent of the median salaries for comparable positions.

In addition, senior staff at roughly half of the comparable municipalities received vehicle allowances of $627 to $810 per month.

"The City of Prince George provides a vehicle allowance to positions that require a vehicle in the performance of their duties," the report said. "The monthly allowance is $305 if the employee uses a car and $374 if a truck. We understand that only one senior manager receives the vehicle allowance."

Prince George senior staff can obtain a maximum of six weeks (30 days) of paid vacation per year, along with four of the 10 other cities compared. The other six allowed a maximum of between 33 and 40 paid vacations days per year.

The city manager and departmental directors and general managers start with five weeks of holidays and move to six weeks vacation after three years of employment. The other management positions at the city start at four weeks of vacation, move up to five weeks after 10 years of employment and only reach six weeks after 20 years of service.

"To aid in recruitment efforts, the vacation entitlement schedule for senior management (the City Manager, General Managers and Directors) at the City of Prince George advances more quickly than at comparison organizations..." Babicz wrote.

The city's revised overtime policy for non-union staff will come into effect on Jan. 1, Babicz added.

"As determined by the compensation survey, the majority of the City’s peer municipalities generally do not provide compensation to senior management for overtime but instead provide an additional annual allotment of vacation to recognize extra time worked by these senior positions," Babicz wrote. "To remain consistent with practices at the majority of peer municipalities, the revised Exempt Employee Overtime Procedure continues to provide an allotment of two additional weeks of vacation (in lieu of overtime) to senior management who regularly attend Council meetings, but reduces that allotment to one additional week of vacation for senior management who do not regularly attend Council meetings."

The city's management structure is fairly lean, with only 75 non-union staff out of the equivalent of 690 full-time positions – a ratio of 10.9 per cent. The median of the 10 comparison communities was 13.4 per cent.

"The City of Prince George’s ratio of exempt staff to total FTE is in the lowest third of the market," the Sianas Consult Inc. report said.

Sampson, and Coun. Cori Ramsay and Terri McConnachie, suggested that while looking at other B.C. municipalities gives part of the picture, it would be worthwhile to look at other regional municipalities, similar-size cities in other parts of Canada, non-municipal government agencies and the private sector for wage comparisons.

"We do need a bit of a made-in-PG approach," Sampson said.

Other members of council disagreed, saying the municipal comparison was a fair one.

"I think it's important for us to compare with other municipalities," Coun. Frank Everitt said. "It's not the private sector that we're competing with so much, but other municipalities who could recruit our staff."

A motion passed by council on Monday called for city staff to refine the city's wage-comparison policy, and come back with a report to city council.

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