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Letter: Taxpayer suggests 5% pay cut and wage freeze for all municipal employees

Asking civil servants to participate in the hurt is difficult, but would result in zero tax increase

Mark Signoretti showed courage in his proposal to save taxpayers $500,000, which, to no surprise, fell on deaf ears. 

The motion was rejected by a vote of 9-4 highlighting the same players who want to make a change vs. those who want to keep the status quo. 

Signoretti’s motion was quashed and once again exemplifies the shameful performance of this administration. Councils’ refusal to take pause on major spending projects and the insistence to move KED forward is incredibly frustrating to all of us sitting on the outside, especially given that more councillors are clearly open to exploring alternatives. 

Aside from resorting to making our views known through the media, in many cases, it is virtually impossible to get connected to our councillors who do not share our position.

In a recent letter to the editor, I proposed a wage freeze and a five-per-cent pay cut across the board. This would result in no tax increases for 2021 and 2022, which would completely neutralize the needed $14-million proposed tax bill for 2021. 

Signoretti’s’ proposal was for non-union staff only, resulting in saving approx. $500,000. But here’s the thing about mayor Biggers’ response, which has a hidden message to which many taxpayers are saying enough.

Mayor Bigger said the motion was “not in keeping with how we treat our employees, particularly during a global pandemic.” 

Umm, excuse me. Yes, we kind of know this already mayor Bigger. The point is public servants on average earn 30 per cent more than the private sector workers as stated in my previous letter. A 2018 report states wages and benefits awarded to public servants are deemed unsustainable by the Ontario Finances Treasury Board Secretariat. Furthermore, wages and benefits are the biggest contributors to out-of-control costs. 

So, on behalf of Greater Sudbury Taxpayers, our question is this, “When will this administration seriously act on what many other municipalities are facing and start making the hard choices that many of us are doing outside of your insulated world?”

Oh, by the way this is my reply to your hidden message, “Public Servants should not be exempted from participating in the real world. Despite Coun. Kirwan’s missing-the-point explanation on property taxes are based on property assessment regardless of income. Not sure what point he is making with Signoretti’s motion on a pay cut, but I do understand his point that a pay cut would be demoralizing given city staff give so much of their time. 

Well, Mr. Kirwan, that is exactly what many people working in the private sector are going through. 

In short, we’ve all struggled with this pandemic. We can only pay for what we need and can afford. Many people have taken pay cuts voluntarily to keep their jobs and companies afloat, some have lost their jobs and for the businesses that have had to close their doors, well they may have taken the biggest blow. 

So, yes, asking civil servants to participate in the hurt is difficult. 

Councillor Signoretti's motion or my preferred recommendation — a five-per-cent pay cut and wage freeze — is simply asking the employees of the public sector to share in the pain. 

Is this proposed tax savings solution not reasonable given the income inequities? At the very least, our request should be presented to all the employees working for the City of Greater Sudbury to get their feedback of willingness to help freeze taxes and share in holding costs to acceptable levels. 

Robert Hibbs, Sudbury