New Measurables to Drive Better Behavior


Last week this candidate put forward one idea for reforming and improving how things could be done in the future at city hall. Here is installment number two of my plan to return the City of Sault Ste. Marie to sustainability. I will be at Mill Market Wednesday, October 15th from about 3:00 to 7:00pm and look forward to meeting more people.

New Measurables to Drive Better Behavior
What is the current criteria for determining raises at city hall? Oh sure there are the union contracts and I am not going to open that can of worms right yet, but what about non-union salaries? How are they determined? Having looked at the Sunshine List I can only say it is a very poor system in use indeed. So here is my much better idea, where these salaries are linked to key performance measurables. It should be the role of those in management at City Hall to be making the city successful and prosperous. So let’s hold them to that! What follows is a list of key measurables that indicate the city’s overall health and should be used to determine managerial salaries:

Personal Median Income Level Unemployment Rate
Population Growth (Decline) Management & Administration cost as % of Budget
Doctors per 1000 residents City Staff as per 1000 residents
Business Tax as % of Revenue Sunshine List Compensation as % of Budget
Desirable results for the left hand column are increases while the right column should see declines. As the overall “Civic Health” improves then the opportunity for salary increases will appear. Until then a wage freeze would remain in effect. To quell the opposition to using these key measurables I will now explain why it makes good sense, dare I say common sense to use them.
As of the last census the Median Income level for Sault Ste. Marie was about $25,500 per person. That means that half of the residents are living on less than that amount of money per year. If this income level increases it results in the following benefits – less poverty, higher universal disposable income (UDI) and higher tax revenue. UDI is one of the most important, and most over looked by government, economic indicators. Each dollar of UDI spent in the local economy generates $0.13 for the Federal/Provincial coffers through HST alone. If a community’s UDI becomes to low (in my opinion it is already too low in Sault Ste. Marie) local merchants suffer from reduced sales and eventually business failures. Only when the average citizen has enough disposable income after taxes can the local economy prosper. Less poverty results in fewer welfare payments and lower crime rates (which translates as more economical Police Services), so higher Median Income levels are just a huge win for the community all around, and at every level.

Population growth is only ever beneficial unless it rages out of control and begins to outstrip resources. Increasing population means increasing business for the local merchants, increased tax revenue for all layers of government and an influx of new ideas. However a community can only grow if it has jobs to offer. That makes job creation the hidden gem in this measurable. By tracking the unemployment rate at the same time, we will ensure a tight city staff focus on creating an environment that is friendly toward business people who employ others. This is a focus currently not receiving sufficient attention.

The Doctors per 1000 population and City Staff per 1000 population are useful indicators of city performance. Everyone wants a family doctor, it is part of the universality of medical care that makes Canada such a desirable country on the world stage. By contrast the number of city staff should never be allowed to outstrip city growth and keeping track of this number should help reduce future city costs.

Similarly tracking Management & Administrative cost as % of budget along with Sunshine List Compensation as % of budget will put emphasis on reducing these rates. This will make the city more efficient and much better able to cope with future reductions in revenue streams. According to Statistics Canada the wealthiest 10% of Canadians are those making more than $80,400 per year. That means that if you earn more than this (and all the Sunshine List members do) you are part of the economic elite of the country, wealthier than 9 out of 10 people you meet on the street. I personally think it is shameful that these kinds of salaries are handed out from the taxes paid by a population consisting of 50% of people making less than $28,000 a year. Something needs to be done to correct this imbalance and these key measurables will go a long way to doing that.