Original Published on Jul 22, 2022 at 03:38

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

One third of the City of Nelson staff earn over $75,000 in annual pre-tax salary, and comprise well over half of the total paid out in staff salaries.

According to the annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) — prepared in correspondence with the Financial Information Act legislation — released recently by the city, 63 employees (out of around 180) earn over $75,000 with the City of Nelson.

That figure has been a benchmark for some time for B.C. municipality staff salary reveals, said city chief financial officer Chris Jury, and as salaries increase so will that number of people over that mark.

“At some point every full time employee will be on that list,” he said.

Of the 63, only 12 were women, and only four were over $100,000, while 27 men earned over $100,000. Overall, the city paid out $12 million in total salaries — with $66,161 in expenses — with $6.7 million going to managers and senior staff.

The people at the top of the organizational chart for the city earned the most money, with city manager Kevin Cormack the highest at $190,685, Nelson Hydro general manager Scott Spencer next at $186,889 and former chief financial officer Colin McClure at $183,777.

Mayor John Dooley had said Nelson’s overall payroll was unique in B.C., with the city sporting its own professional fire department, police force and its own power utility.

Even so, paying out taxpayer dollars to city staff has a circular effect and benefits the local economy, he added.

“This is all money that is coming back into the local community,” Dooley said. “You look at a lot of those vendors and those are local folks operating a business. These names, every one we can see, they live in and around our community.”

The city also has a purchase local first mentality, he explained, which means a lot of the vendors listed in the report — notables receiving over $25,000 — are city or regional businesses.

The complete SOFI report, as well as the city’s budget documents, are online at http://www.nelson.ca/203/Budget-Financial-Reports.

The report includes a list of council salaries, as well as a list of all payments made for goods and services over $25,000, lending transparency to the municipal operation. 

Dooley was paid $60,391 plus expenses of $757 in 2021, while all councillors — except Nicole Charlwood at $17,949 — earned $25,426 in remuneration, with expenses ranging from $258 to $1,630.

The wages of the Nelson Police Department and the Nelson Public Library were not included since they both report to boards and file separately.

Granting grants

There were six organizations receiving operating grants over $25,000 from the city, including the largest contribution to Touchstones Nelson of $227,460.

Also claiming a cheque from the city were the Regional District of Central Kootenay ($184,200), Community Futures Central Kootenay ($80,000), the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce ($77,520), the Nelson and District Arts Council ($39,200) and the Capitol Theatre ($70,200), for a total of $678,580.

This item reprinted with permission from The Nelson Daily, Nelson, British Columbia