In 2016 the City of Nelson paid 32 of its 149 employees more than $100,000 each, paid about $1 million in contracts to Selkirk Paving, and gave $223,000 to Touchstones for its annual grant.
Those are just three examples of the detailed information contained in the city’s Statement of Financial Information for 2016. All municipalities and other public bodies are required by law to publish this report annually. The full report (minus the police statistics) is attached below.
The report includes financial statements, a list of council and staff salaries, and a list of all payments made for goods and services over $25,000.
The city’s vendor list
The report contains a list of the 120 vendors from whom the city made purchases over $25,000 in 2016. The city paid just over $6.5 million to Fortis BC, and more than $1 million to each of Maglio Installations, the Municipal Finance Authority, the Municipal Pension Plan, and Selkirk Paving.
The total paid to all suppliers, including those under $25,000, was $24,754,685 (about $6 million less than in 2015).
The city’s chief financial officer Colin McClure says many people like to focus on the city’s payroll but they forget how muchthe city gives back to the community in contracts.
“Local people like Fortis and Martech and Selkirk Paving, for example. We try to do our best to make sure we are buying local. There are companies getting that revenue from us, and that helps them to hire local people who spend their money in the area.”
Grants to organizations
The report lists operating grants over $25,000 from the city to Touchstones Nelson, Community Futures Central Kootenay, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, and the Capitol Theatre, amounting to a total of $486,000.
Payments to city council and staff
Mayor Deb Kozak was paid $41,740 plus expenses of $1,879. Other councillors’ salaries plus expenses ranged between $22,000 and $26,000.
Of the 32 city employees paid more than $100,000 in 2016, ten were from the Nelson Police department with 2 officers being funded from the RCMP as they are seconded to the Integrated Road Safety Unit, five were from the Nelson Fire Department, nine were from Nelson Hydro and the remaining eight were senior staff from administration and public works.
The city paid out a total of $15,306, 236 in wages and benefits last year, up 4.5 per cent from 2015. Of the total wages and benefits for 2016, 22.6 per cent went to police and bylaw enforcement personnel, 18.8 per cent to employees of Nelson Hydro, and 10.2 per cent to the fire department.
There will no doubt be a large retroactive wage settlement soon with the firefighters, who have been without a contract for six years. The union and the city are deadlocked and the dispute will be going to arbitration. The two sides have spent the past ten months trying to agree on an arbitrator.
McClure says Nelson’s wages are not especially high considering the scope of the city’s activities.
“People often say our wages are almost as high as Kelowna, but we are a significantly larger organization than Castlegar or Trail, because of Nelson Hydro, and because we have paid police and fire. We have a very large and active public works department that does infrastructure work. Some communities do not have that expertise or equipment so they hire it out.”
Surplus and debt
The statements show a surplus for 2016 of $5,094,301, and an accumulated surplus at the end of 2016 of $163,394,654. But this is intentional, and for good reason, McClure says.
“We always budget for a surplus. The surplus is allocated annually into equipment, capital, hydro, water and sewer reserves, (and other reserves), and on the other side (of the ledger) we are always drawing down on the reserves at the same time to fund the significant capital purchases and infrastructure upgrades undertaken each year.”
He said that about $139 million of that accumulated surplus is investments in capital assets and amortization expenses related to capital assets.
He said without the reserves, the city would be carrying more debt. At this point it’s at $16,536,054, but McClure says that although this debt is held on the City of Nelson’s books the annual principal and interest payments are funded by Fortis and Selkirk College (for the Tenth Street Campus).
“When this third party funded debt is removed from the overall debt balance in the operating fund only $1.2 million of the City operating debt is taxpayer funded,” he said.
The full Statement of Financial Information is attached below.