In 2020 the City of Nelson paid 30 of its 170 full-time employees more than $100,000 each, paid just over $2 million in contracts to Terus Construction for paving projects, and granted $87,500 to the Community Futures Development Corporation.
Those are just three examples of the detailed information contained in the city’s recently published Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) for 2020. All municipalities and other public bodies such as colleges and hospitals are required by law to publish this report annually.
The full report can be found at https://bit.ly/3qO7AzM.
The document includes a list of council and staff salaries and expenses as well as a list of all payments made for goods and services over $25,000.
Nelson’s chief financial officer Colin McClure, when presenting the document to council at its June 29 meeting, said the purpose of the report is transparency.
“An individual cannot really look over the shoulder of the accounts payable person as we are making payments or doing payroll,” he said.
The report gives taxpayers a window into the city’s expenditures that they would not otherwise have, he said.
Payments to city council and staff
The SOFI report discloses the earnings of all employees earning over $75,000 per year, with the exception of employees of the Nelson Police Department.
Mayor John Dooley was paid $59,703 in 2020. Other councillors’ salaries were in the $25,000-$26,000 range.
The highest paid employees at the city in 2020 were city manager Kevin Cormack ($186,171), chief financial officer Colin McClure ($161,403), Nelson Hydro employee Jordan Rothkop ($160,077), hydro employee Jason Procyshyn ($159,151), hydro employee Trevor Harding ($156,793), and hydro employee Dana Hamilton ($155,363).
Of the 30 city employees paid more than $100,000 in 2020, 10 were from the Nelson Fire Department, 10 were from Nelson Hydro and the remainder were management and senior staff from administration and public works.
There may also be employees of the Nelson Police Department who fit that category, but the numbers for the 27 police employees and the employees of the Nelson Public Library are not included in the report and McClure said they are not available from the city.
The reason for this, city manager Kevin Cormack told the Nelson Star last year, is that the police and the library are run by separate boards of directors and as such are insulated by legislation from this level of reporting, despite the fact that the paycheques of police and library staff come directly from the city and are part of the city budget.
The city paid out a total of $11,982,439 in salaries, not including benefits, in 2020, not including the library or the police.
McClure said Nelson’s overall payroll reflects the fact that, unlike most cities of its size, Nelson has a professional fire department, its own police force, and its own power utility.
The city’s vendor list
The report contains a list of 125 vendors from whom the city made purchases over $25,000 in 2020. The city paid just under $6.8 million to Fortis BC, and more than $1 million to each of Martech Electrical Systems, the Municipal Finance Authority, the Municipal Pension Plan, Terus Construction, and Kays Contracting.
The total paid to all suppliers, including those under $25,000, was $32,507,000, approximately the same as in the previous year.
The vendor list shows that the city makes every attempt to spend its tax and grant money locally, McClure said.
“Some of the larger companies like Marwest, they are hiring locally then shopping here. I think we are doing a good job of keeping the money in our community.”
Grants to organizations
The report lists operating grants over $25,000 from the city to Touchstones Nelson, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Community Futures Central Kootenay, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, the Nelson and District Arts Council, and the Capitol Theatre, amounting to a total of $698,380.
Deputy chief financial officer Chris Jury presented the audited financial statements for the year 2020. The statement of operations shows show a surplus of $12,635,156 for 2020, and an accumulated surplus at the end of 2020 of $204,256,620.
McClure said surpluses get allocated to reserves that build up over time and are used when needed for such things as parks, infrastructure improvements, and equipment replacement.
Jury pointed out that in 2020, income from taxes increased by about $100,000 over 2019 because of taxes from new construction, not from households for which there was a COVID-related zero property tax increase.
He said lower revenues from such things as parking and campground rentals during the pandemic were balanced by more grants than expected and higher than expected investment income.
In 2020 the city received a $2.6 million COVID-29 recovery grant from the province. The financial statements indicate that there is $1,213,000 left, still to be spent this year or in 2022.
The statements show budgeted amounts and actual amounts for many categories of revenue and expenses, as well as details on cash flows, assets, debt, and other financial indicators.
The financial statements are part of the city’s 2020 Annual Report, which can be seen at https://bit.ly/3xlDRk5.