For Immediate Release:

Out of control compensation in Transit, Budget 2013


OTAG analysis concludes 10 percent increase per person

Ottawa, Nov 18th 2012,

After several weeks of debate with city officials The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group has released their analysis of the 2013 Transit Commission budget. “It’s another lottery win for Transit employees" concludes Kevin MacDonald, OTAGs President. The draft budget available on the city website reviews compensation, overtime as well as employee full time equivalents and MacDonald warns citizens to study the total average per person rather than salaries alone. “The devil is in the details." said MacDonald. For its part, the City has tried to provide OTAG with some context but MacDonald points out that none of the additional perspective resulted in lower compensation data. “I don't think taxpayers need to be distracted from why we are losing important bus routes, if taxes go up 2.1 percent at the same time employee compensation shoots up 10 percent than its obvious something has to give." According to OTAG’s long range projections, at its current 10% growth per year, in 3 years OC Transpo will be spending over $100,000 per person, in 6.5 years compensation per person will double.

According to the cities draft budget documents OTAG has determined that several factors have a significant impact on the percentages, overtime as an example is scheduled to increase to over 15 million dollars. This number combined with the decrease in full time employees actually increased the average paycheck by over 10 percent. The overtime bill alone involves a massive increase for 2013, amounting to an almost 10 percent increase over 2012." It would be next to impossible to operate a company with management that forecast any increase in overtime let alone 10 percent! Imagine planning for 2013 knowing you have an overtime bill of over a million dollars two full months ahead of the new year !" said MacDonald. OTAG notes that Transit has always been the stand-out department when it comes to compensation," You don't see compensation numbers like this in Community Services (only 3%), while the City's average growth per person is 5%, why is the Transit Commission twice as much as the entire City average ?" MacDonald said.

-2012 Transit budget reflects approved funded Full time positions of 3,034.5 for a total of $232.1M in salary, wages, benefits and $14.1M in overtime.

-2013 draft Transit budget reflects Full time positions of 2,996 for a total of $236.1M in net salary, wages, benefits and $15.4M in net overtime.

Mayor Jim Watson made a commitment to the city involving the maximum 2.5 percent tax increase but MacDonald remembers another recent commitment, " In April of this year the Mayor stood in front of a crowd and boasted about a new collective agreement that would pay Transit Employees 2 percent more than last year, It seems the net result was 5 times more than he thought."

With several recent bus route changes throughout the city MacDonald wonders if the Transit Commission has their priorities right, " I'm pretty sure some of my neighbors would prefer not to walk so far to take the bus, it’s just not reasonable to cut bus routes just to fund compensation increases. "

OTAG is also concerned about revelations that Transit staff will be performing more maintenance and repairs in house as opposed to contracting out. “City staff just told us that it costs roughly 5 thousand dollars for a small bench in my neighborhood park, 5 grand for a silly bench and they think this policy can save us money?” MacDonald quipped. Needless to say that outside contractors does not have the same overtime, severance, pension, sick leave, minimum shift guarantees and other employee benefit entitlements.

The taxpayers group is encouraged by assurances from the City's treasurer that monthly variance reports are on the horizon, not soon enough notes MacDonald, " The monthly variance reports that we pushed forward several years ago will help Council and staff identify efficiencies with overtime issues, right now it’s a flip of the coin."

The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group is a non profit group working to keep property taxes down.

For more information contact:

Kevin MacDonald
President OTAG
Facebook "Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group"