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Firefighters make up half of city’s sunshine list

By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff

Half of the people who made over $100,000 at the City of Kitchener last year were members of the Kitchener Fire Department.

This year’s “sunshine list” features 108 employees, down from 2010’s 110 total, but up from the 91 people who made over $100,000 in 2009.

The sunshine list is the disclosure of public sector workers who make more than $100,000 in a year.

While the list is usually fairly stable, things like contract negotiations can cause fluctuations.

“Sometimes if a collective agreement is expired for some time and there’s retroactivity, it could result in some people receiving lump sum payments that would cause them to be on the list,” said Dan Chapman, deputy chief administrative officer of the city’s finance and corporate services department. Chapman appears on the list himself, with a salary of $163,574.

Carla Ladd, Kitchener’s former CAO, was the highest paid bureaucrat, making more than $200,000. Ladd left her job at the city in February, and now works for the City of Barrie.

Directors of many city departments also surpassed the income mark, as did some employees from Kitchener Utilities.

“A number of those utilities positions are market-rated, meaning that their compensation is tied to industry comparators,” said Chapman.

Workers for the city’s gas utility would have comparable salaries to those working at Union Gas, he said.

“That’s why some of the compensation may vary for some of those utilities positions than other positions in the grid.”

But with 54 firefighters named, that group surpassed any other on the list, which Chapman and Fire Chief Tim Beckett say is not unusual.

The fire department launched a 24-hour shift pilot program in 2009 in the hopes of reducing overtime costs, which has tipped a few firefighters over $100,000.

“I would say a majority of them have overtime associated to them, but some of them, their base salaries are already over $100,000,” said Beckett.

Platoon chiefs and assistant platoon chiefs are among those whose salaries are more than $100,000, but there are also a few first-class firefighters with a base salary of $83,000.

In addition to regular salary increases, firefighters receive a three per cent pay increase after eight years of service, six per cent after 17 years and nine per cent after 23 years, which also brings them closer to making the sunshine list, according to Beckett.

So far this year, the fire department has seen lower levels of overtime pay.

“We saw a spike in overtime two years ago. We saw a spike in overtime at the start of last year, but a decrease in overtime at the tail end . . . of 2011,” he said.

“So far this year, two-and-a-half months in, we haven’t seen a large use of overtime.”

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