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City of Nanaimo reports on council and staff wages and expenses

Municipality had 303 employees who made more than $75,000

The City of Nanaimo presented its financial information in time for an end-of-June deadline.

Nanaimo city council approved the 2018 statement of financial information at a special meeting June 24.

The SOFI reports lists remuneration and expenses of all city council members as well as all municipal employees with salaries greater than $75,000. During 2018, the city had 303 employees making $75,000 or more, up from 275 in 2017.

The City of Nanaimo’s highest-paid staff member in 2018 was fire chief Karen Fry, also the director of public safety, who made $177,653. Close behind was Richard Harding, director of parks, recreation and culture, who was paid $177,419.

The other six staff members who were paid more than $150,000 include: Dan Kershaw, firefighter, $165,831; Bill Sims, director of engineering and public works, $160,537; Dale Lindsay, director of community development, $159,577; John Van Horne, director of human resources, $159,126; Blair Pinker, firefighter, $156,977; and Tim Doyle, deputy fire chief, $153,955.

Among council members, former mayor Bill McKay was paid $82,823.

Former councillor Diane Brennan had the highest expenses at $36,384, with McKay at $29,622, and they were the only council members to exceed their expense budgets. No other council member surpassed $10,000 in expenses. Of Brennan’s expenses, $30,612 were legal fees, while McKay expensed $23,191 in legal fees.

Laura Mercer, the city’s director of financial services, was asked if the legal fee expenses included any reimbursements from previous years and said in an e-mail that “the expenses that were included in [the] council SOFI report were submitted for payment in 2018 and therefore are 2018 expenses.”

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Of city staff members, assistant accountant Dan Bailey had the highest expenses at $10,733.

“If you go to two seminars a year or so, that can get you pretty close to $5,000,” said Mercer at the June 24 meeting. “Anybody who’s registered for courses that are a substantial amount of money, there’s always an agreement within HR and there’s stipulations around that.”

Earlier this spring, KPMG prepared an audit findings report for the city, which followed up on a report the year before that made several recommendations, including that the expense approval hierarchy be reviewed and amended. According to this year’s audit findings report, KPMG reviewed a sampling of expense reports and “did not identify any instances where an expense report was approved by a subordinate to the person submitting the expenses.”

A city staff report noted that the Financial Information Act requires municipalities to prepare SOFI reports by June 30 each year to be filed with the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

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