Cobourg Staff to get salary Increase

It’s no secret that the Town is having a problem hiring staff – particularly in the Planning department.  Last I looked, as well as the Director position being vacant, there were 7 vacancies in planning plus 2 other vacancies.  One of the reasons given for the problem (and it is a problem) is that salaries are too low.   So late last year, the Town hired a consultant to review all 40 “non-union” salaries and they delivered their findings at a special Council meeting on June 19.  Like many employers, the Town uses a grade structure with levels inside grades – see below.  The current grades attempt to set salaries at the 50th percentile of the amounts paid by comparable Towns but the recommendation is to move to the 60th percentile.

Although the report specified recommended increases, it did not provide actual salaries. However, salary ranges are provided by HR in their job descriptions in online postings – so I have been able to create a pair of tables with the relevant information.

Current Salaries

   

Current in 2024

   

Grade

Positions

min

max

 

Example

3

4

$54,307

$63,530

*

Planning Admin Assistant

4

2

$62,211

$72,778

   

5

2

$70,116

$82,026

   

6

3

$78,023

$91,291

*

Principal Planner

7

9

$83,692

$97,908

   

8

8

$89,333

$104,508

*

Manager Infrastructure

9

4

$94,231

$110,237

*

Manager long range planning

10

1

$105,893

$123,880

   

11

1

$117,554

$137,522

   

12

5

$129,216

$151,149

*

Director of planning

13

1

$145,192

$169,855

   

* indicates current range as shown on recruitment postings in 2024.  Others are interpolations so are not confirmed.
All grades were increased 3% effective Jan 1, 2024. Called “inflationary increase”.
Minimum (starting?) salary is 85.48% of max.  Other levels are at 88.90%, 92.45% and 96.11% of max amount.  Increases to the next level happen annually subject to a performance review.

Note the grades do not indicate actual salaries – just the range for those positions.

Proposed Increases per consultant’s report

Grade

Positions

Grade max

Increase

New max

Example

3

4

$63,530

14.65%

$72,837

Planning Admin Assistant

4

2

$72,778

10.48%

$80,405

 

5

2

$82,026

7.64%

$88,293

 

6

3

$91,291

7.08%

$97,754

Principal Planner

7

9

$97,908

7.82%

$105,564

 

8

8

$104,508

9.75%

$114,698

Manager Infrastructure

9

4

$110,237

15.96%

$127,831

Manager long range planning

10

1

$123,880

18.90%

$147,293

 

11

1

$137,522

17.29%

$161,300

 

12

5

$151,149

9.13%

$164,949

Director of planning

13

1

$169,855

13.63%

$193,006

 

The recommended effective date for the increase is August 1, 2024 and the budget impact for 2024 is $185,116. The salary budget for 2025 would increase by $444,278.

Highlights of Presentation by Consultant

See the full presentation in Resources – but here are some key items:

  • Some candidates are looking for hybrid working conditions – that is, some time not in the office.  Cobourg already caters to that with an HR policy
  • Town salaries on average are actually below P50 (the 50th percentile)
  • Moving to P60 will help recruitment and retention
  • In the current highly competitive environment, the grades should be reviewed in 3 years.

There were few questions from Councillors although Miriam moved an amendment to add a review of benefits and add KPIs to the job descriptions.  There was no seconder so her amendment died.

The motion on the agenda was approved – it called for implementation of the new grades effective August 1.

The “Special Council meeting” was the Strategic Priorities and Policy Standing Committee so the decision will need to be ratified at the regular Council meeting on 26 June.

Resources

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Lemon Cake
1 month ago

Comments about the lack of civic engagement in Cobourg are interesting here – and not surprising given that the only sources of current local news we get are this blog and Pete Fisher (who can only be accessed on the cesspool called Twitter and who has an unfortunate tendency to retweet Rebel News stories). As the town grows and as local media flounders (and as federal laws continue to choke off our access to news on social media) we’re going to have to find a new way to keep people informed.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Lemon Cake
1 month ago

I believe that Our Town Employees , Council & Politicians should be informing us on a Regular & Current basis about everything taking place in this Tax Paying Community on a weekly basis
instead of burying every thing on the Premise its for our own Good or the Privacy Act .
I think we are All getting a little tired of Govt and Politicians at all levels Playing Fast & Loose for My own Good .

Rational
1 month ago

For Fiscal 2025 the above $444K annual increase will add 1.4% to next years’ Property Taxes based on an Operating Budget of $31.7 million for F2024. This is before the 2025 Budget process even begins.

How can this request be approved without first assessing all staffing requirements against needs not wants and determining what next years’ overall Operating Budget requirements will be.

I am not comfortable Town Management are being fiscally responsible.

Dave
1 month ago

Not really too concerned about the salary increases, 3% in today’s working environment and considering the tremendous increases to minimum wage it seems reasonable. What I don’t like is the working from home. Unsupervised, effectiveness for dollars oversight?, COVID created this I say back to work!

Sam Westcott
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

Dave you did not read the report properly. It was 3% for Inflation increase PLUS the other Increases to take effect in August that are huge. Please read fully.

Dave
Reply to  Sam Westcott
1 month ago

You’re right Sam – there is increases beyond the 3% in each position. I asked my wife what she was making 12 long years ago after reading your comment to me in her contract position as a Grade 2 Admin Assistant with the City of Toronto and it was the same as the current Grade 3 Planning Assistant to get a comparative feel of the wages so I still don’t have a sense of alarm and the overall scale is only being improved to the 60th per centile.
I am more alarmed by the increases to minimum wage. 12 years ago they were $11.00 an hour today last I read was $16.50 an hour – $34,420 and I believe they are more than that now.
Did you know stores such as Loblaws, Metro no longer are able to obtain their store brand products which sold at reduced prices? I talked to a manager the other day as they seemed to be disappearing from the shelves and he said the suppliers of these products found they can’t make any money making them so no longer available to the chains? I knew someone employed in a food processing plant who worked at minimum – Grade 9, they paid minimum – the standard rate for food plant processing work. And so the pay scales of all must be increased so we may pay more for everything. An increase at the bottom therefore an increase throughout the wage chain.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Sam Westcott
Reply to  Dave
24 days ago

Dave I am not sure of the point you are making?
Do not know what your wife did working in Toronto and obviously in any event Toronto is much more expensive that Cobourg?
If you are right with her pay it means nothing to us here1 maybe she was overpaid?

Sandpiper
1 month ago

The Probable Reason for the Sudden Wage increases is due to the fact that Cobourg seems to be a difficult place to attract Skilled employees Why ?? But we have apparently hired a New Planner Yet to be revealed and Wages determined
Since Building and Construction seems to be Grinding to a halt despite the Provincial & Federal propaganda There should have been a few out there looking for Jobs I have a number of friends and family in the Planning & Engineering fields
and they are telling me that Job lay offs in this area are prevalent since the Covid slow down and the slacking sales of Condominiums / Housing around the country primarily due the
Costly Economic Climate and that’s not just due to Mortgage interest rates .
Just wondering when the Town will reveal the facts

Kathleen
1 month ago

I don’t have a problem with staff getting a raise in these difficult economic times. Although I’m still shaking my head as to why Council would not second and pass Miriam’s motion for KPI’s!?!?

I’m not surprised they cannot hire staff. Every business is having the same problem. Not sure even a raise will help. Overall, work ethics and priorities have certainly shifted since pre-Covid.

Gerinator
Reply to  Kathleen
1 month ago

Agreed, Miriam’s motion should have seconded, as a minimum; and then voted on. Would have been interesting to find out who is interested in the total picture. IMO compensation is: income, benefits and performance. Where are the benefits, to the community, from past initiatives, re-orgs (18+ new hires)? Generally speaking I’m feeling somewhat down due to the lack of advances on critical social, infrastructural issues. Hopefully I’m in the minority.

Bill
Reply to  Gerinator
1 month ago

Unfortunately, we are on a downward spiral here in Cobourg (unsustainable tax increases, increasing cost of living, crime, ineffective policing, decreasing property values, major infrastructure issues, lack of effective leadership at all levels of government, just to name a few). Many of us are feeling down and have become apathetic judging by the very poor turnout during the last civic election.

Kathleen
Reply to  Bill
1 month ago

I know I sound like a broken record but when will Cobourg ever acknowledge the fact that we can no longer afford our very own EXPENSIVE Police Force and Fire Department? Maybe our taxes would not increase by so much and we could afford a new outdoor pool, and fix the pier if we went OPP and had Northumberland Fire Dept.

Rational
Reply to  Kathleen
1 month ago

Cobourg can do without the CPSs as they are ineffective and just keep buying “toys” (high visibility painted car, electric scooters, ATVs etc.). Just look at their track record over the past year. Hence the call for OPP who would be respected.

But the Cobourg Fire Department is essential. Each call they make is to deal with a specific emergency call, help people in distress and support other services. Cobourg Fire saves lives, which IMO ranks ahead of fixing a pier or getting a new pool.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rational
cornbread
Reply to  Rational
1 month ago

I would hazard a guess that our Fire Dept. in Cobourg spends the majority of its deployments in following the Emergency Vehicle which can handle its own job without their help in most cases. Our fire dept. should be not much different that what Port Hope has.

Kathleen
Reply to  Rational
1 month ago

Fire can still be merged to create Northumberland Fire. Merge, just like Toronto had to do.

Rational
Reply to  Kathleen
1 month ago

IMO the pier can wait, as can the pool, these are not necessities. Cobourg has a Beach, indoor pool at the “Y” and an outdoor pool already. A Cobourg dedicated Fire Department is essential.

I don’t disagree that the tax base is out of hand, as demonstrated by the above unjustified staff remuneration increases. The most effective cost reduction is the CPS – as they have become a social services operation under the Police Chief and what Cobourg needs is law enforcement.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rational
Dave
Reply to  Kathleen
1 month ago

Toronto never amalgamated Kathleen. I was at the negotiating table – in fact the exact opposite happened as the various individual unions bullied their way to further division in the interest of keeping their jobs. Right after a hiring binge went on and the city was even more expensive to run.
As far as the police forces merging here careful oversight would have to take place to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen here. But it did not happen in Toronto, it was name only.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Sandpiper
1 month ago

Didn’t the New Mayor & Council raise a lot of wages and pay level s when they First came to Power for similar excuses / reasons Look what & where that’s gotten us ??
And what does the Manager of Culture do 12 months of the year ?

Carol
1 month ago

We have bigger problems in the town hall than just raising salaries for our population I believe we are over staffed in some areas. The satisfaction level of dealing with the town hall is very low they should look at some accountability for jobs being done. Too many people working there without a vested interest in our town. Most don’t even live in town. I understand we have to reach beyond our borders for some jobs but honestly I would love to see more interest in us as a community rather than just a job. I am not sure how much more the tax payers in this community can take.

Russ
Reply to  Carol
1 month ago

Just interested ….. how do you know that ” Most don’t even live in town. ” ????

Where do you find that kind of information ???

Carol
Reply to  Russ
1 month ago

ask them

Sandpiper
1 month ago

When your in a Job position of Public Service I believe these people are paid to be their and Serve This theory that people are actually working Remotely is ridicules and still receiving the same pay Our group have been waiting for returned phone calls or Emails from County & Town employees on several overlapping issues for weeks now Yes messages are left , E mails sent and we have been doing this for 3 wks now on a rotational basis between 3 or 4 of our Board members
NOT ONE RESPONSE so who is insuring that Remote work is actually happening and productive In our case a simple response from a knowledgeable Employee not a Junior , assistant there to take messages and defer would have resolved so many issues and concerns .
This applies especially to the Planning & Engineering Dept s Time is Money on the other side .
Folks There is No Buddy Home at the Town Just walk in

Abby
Reply to  Sandpiper
1 month ago

Sandpiper, you need an editor. It is difficult to understand what message you are trying to send.

Andre
Reply to  Sandpiper
1 month ago

Remote work Mouse Jiggler: $9.99 on Amazon.

“Mouse Jiggler Mover Wiggler Undetectable Shaker USB Port for Computer Laptop, Keeps PC Awake, Simulate Movement to Prevent Laptop Entering Sleep, No Software Plug-and-Play”.
In the case of civil servant job with no KPIs, I doubt anyone is checking if the mouse is jiggling.

Ben
Reply to  Andre
1 month ago

Doesn’t work as evidenced by the firing of many employees in big corporations in the States, for ‘mouse-jiggling’

Andre
Reply to  Ben
1 month ago

I agree Ben, it’s such an open secret that $9.99 spent on Amazon just ain’t gonna cut it. It is funny though. Need to up the arms race big time 🙂

But seriously, working from home can work for employers who know and value what you do. Face time is important for climbing ever upwards the ladder of success, but daily commuting is absurd.

In the town’s case I’d say attendance is the best proxy for productivity: bureaucrats don’t know what productivity is. DEI is enough.

Rob
Reply to  Andre
1 month ago

Every day we are overwhelmed with stories of Government fat (growing too big), waste, inefficiency, lack of progress on initiatives, lack of value for our money, the need for more transparency, etc…

I say prove to me/us that Town of Cobourg employees working from home will deliver more value for taxpayers, greater efficiency, more transparency, more accountability, more progress on projects that drag on, use fewer consultants, provide better customer service, cost savings, etc…

If those things do not happen than all Town employees should be in the office, without exception. And there are certainly employees which should never be working from home, those are Supervisors and anyone above the role of Supervisor.

Employees who work from home, should be on a very short leash and must sign remote/hybrid work agreements with specific expectations and agreement termination language, at the discretion of the employer (of course). Working from home isn’t a right, it is a benefit which can be removed it performance expectations are not met.

Cobourg taxpayer
1 month ago

The bottom line is we already pay very high property taxes in Cobourg and it really has made little difference to services I receive when the town hires numerous new people and can’t retain the ones they have. Prove to me that paying more will mean better service and retention. Counsellor Mutton had the right idea with KPIs but apparently that is not important to any one else.
An interesting comparison would be salaries of county positions such as engineers and planners to similar town positions. I hear the county pays more. And they get to sit in a silo with little public contact.

Rob
1 month ago

Quietly adding half of a million dollars to salaries after already adding NEW 18 positions in 2023 – oh yes, we forgot that part. There has to be puts and takes in effectively running an enterprise and if the Municipality would like to see 7-20% increases on existing salaries then it should come on the back of a headcount reduction. How many people are required in the planning department? How many administrative assistants are needed? How is performance for current staff being measured and if it isn’t being measured how do they assess productivity and effectiveness to justify a 7-20% increase for current employees? What was the reason for staff departures in the last 24 months – what information was gained through exit interviews & was it financially driven or something else?

Perhaps people do not want to work in Cobourg, because its a dysfunctional or toxic work environment – Municipal business is a small world and people talk? Perhaps people don’t want to work for and relocated to the Town of Cobourg is because the feel good town, doesn’t feel good any longer. Maybe there are reasons, other than compensation, that they are not attracting talent?

I don’t know the answer but throwing money at a problem isn’t often the right thing to do.

LivesinCobourg
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Well said Rob!

Bird
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

A long time follower of John’s blog (and thanks John for providing this essential service) this is my initial and only comment to date.
Rob, you’ve done an excellent job of summarizing my exact feelings on the subject – well stated!

Rob
Reply to  Bird
1 month ago

Thank you Bird 🙂