Pay Raise For Amherstburg Town Staff

Staff in Amherstburg are getting a raise.

Council approved an adjustment to the salary grid that will see non-union and management staff get raises phased in over the next six years, costing the town an extra $368,683.

The town currently pays $4,134,548 to non-union and management staff.

Administration made the recommendation to try and head off a looming staffing crisis facing local municipalities.

Amherstburg CAO John Miceli says it can be expensive to attract new talent, so retaining staff is key. He says the town currently pays below the market average in Windsor-Essex and competing for new hires would be difficult without making the pay grid adjustment.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo feels paying a competitive wage is part of avoiding the financial tailspin the town was in ahead of the 2014 election.  "I think most people appreciate that some of that had to do with staffing that we had. We're in a good place right now and a lot of that has to do with the people we have at town hall working here; if we want to continue to go in that direction, we have to keep those people — it really is that simple."

"As much as people think we have a lot of people at town hall, we really don't — especially in the administrative portion," says DiCarlo. "As the CAO said, when you have one person doing the job, if they walk away, we can hire all the new people we like, if they don't have the experience to do the job, it's completely redundant."

Councillor Diane Pouget was the lone vote against the pay raise. "We're not ready. We have a significant debt load still and we can't give our residents a false sense of security here."

Pouget doesn't feel paying below the market average in Windsor-Essex would lead to the same type of financial hardships the town is just correcting. "I don't buy that at all because we have the universities and colleges are putting out young, intelligent, eager people that are willing to learn."

Pouget feels the town isn't out of the woods yet and not ready to pay staff more. "We know that we have to come up with almost $30-million more in the next ten years for our water treatment plant, we have major concerns and improvements that we have to make at the Libro Centre, we have crumbling roads and culverts that we have to replace."

The increase, which will see a little over 1% raise in 2017 and a 3% raise in 2018, comes after two years of frozen wages at the town.

The staffing crisis municipalities are keeping an eye is based on a report from OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) showing 67,000 people eligible to retire right now and a further 57,000 workers eligible to retire by 2020.