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Letter: Mysteries of municipal operations in Paradise

The Town of Paradise and NAPE reach a deal. All town facilities will be open for business on Monday.
The Town of Paradise logo.

The Town of Paradise says its director of public works and chief administrative officer (CAO) resigned on June 6, 2017 and Aug. 1, 2017 respectively. I requested through the town’s freedom of information policy, in June 2017 and August 2017, respectively, the amount of severance or other payments paid to those two former management staff.

I received a reply saying I could not get this information due to sections 38 and 40 of the province’s freedom of information act (disclosure harmful to personal privacy or presumed to be an unreasonable invasion of a third party’s personal privacy). I then filed a complaint to the province’s privacy commissioner’s office on June 21, 2017 and Aug. 9, 2017. The privacy commissioner wrote a report for each position indicating that this information could not be withheld under sections 38 and 40. These reports were forwarded to the town.

The town, after months of delay, supplied the information for the former director of public works on Dec. 7, 2017. The former CAO information was not released until Jan. 3, 2018.

The following are the amounts paid or which will be paid to each person.

The former director of public works was paid $50,172 — five months’ salary, plus $6,021 for the town’s portion of pension and benefits. This person was on payroll for five months after he resigned, until Dec. 31, 2017, with full pension and benefits. I am still trying to get the amount of severance paid. Based on my understanding of the town’s severance policy, this would be his base salary of $118,750 divided by 52 weeks equals $2,284 per week multiplied by one week for each year’s service, which was nine years, which equals $20,556. The total of all pay and benefits would then be $76,749.

The former CAO was and will be on salary from Aug. 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 as well as receiving seven weeks’ severance. His current base salary is $146,300 divided by 12 months equals $12,192 per month, multiplied by 10 months equals $121,920. His weekly salary of $2,813 times seven weeks equals $19,691 in severance pay, for a total of $141,611, with group health benefits and pension plan.

The town’s share of the group health benefits and pension plan to be paid on his behalf is approximately $14,630. The total of all pay and benefits is $156,241.

For both positions, the town has or will pay out $232,990 of taxpayers’ money.

What is particularly offensive to me was that on the CBC “St. John’s Morning Show,” prior to the election, Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett was asked if those people were still on payroll. He said, and I quote, “absolutely not.”

There were two directors of public works being paid full salary and benefits from July 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017 for one position, and two CAOs on salary or will be on salary with benefits from Aug. 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 for one position. (This double pay is approximately $354,398.) Why did council and senior management agree to pay out all this money?

It is important to point out this money was paid out without approval at a public meeting, which is against the Municipalities Act.

This information should have been made public to taxpayers of Paradise before the Sept. 26, 2017 municipal election.

Fred W. Brown, former mayor

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