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Letter to the Editor: City employee salaries

Letter to the Editor by Judy Dibbelt
(file photo)

Dear Editor,

I would like to convey my congratulations to the disgruntled resident of Wetaskiwin that has established a new, abysmal low in expressing his/her grievances against our City Mayor and City Manager with threats of violence. How very progressive of you!

I have garnered from your ill-conceived letter that your bone of contention rests primarily with the remuneration afforded our City Manager, as well as the umbrage you take with the skin-tone of our Mayor… or, “colour boy Mayor” as you ungraciously put it. So, permit me to address each.

I will begin with the City Manager’s salary, as this matter appears to be the issue you least comprehend, but from which you harbour much ire. To give you some perspective, I have listed below the salaries of City Managers from several municipalities with comparatively similar populations, and a few exceptions. The salaried amounts of each do not include respective benefits or expenses.

Municipality Population Salary

Beaumont — 21,385 — $251,067

Blackfalds — 9,328 — $208,313

Camrose — 18,742 — $228,780

Canmore — 13,992 — $213,836

Drayton Valley — 7,392 — $191,945

Edmonton — 1,000,000 — $327,000

Lacombe — 13,057 —$205,755

Leduc — 29,993 — $278,211

Olds — 9,753 — $234,600

Rimbey — 2,720 — $151,115

St Albert — 60,789 — $263,471

Stony Plain — 17,842 — $203,009

Sylvan Lake — 16,351 — $217,365

Wetaskiwin —12,655 — $175,971

County of Wet. — 11,579 — $214,951

A City Manager’s salary, as in any job, is typically dependent upon many factors, but is primarily commensurate with his/her experience, educational attainment, career achievements, and market value. As you can plainly see, the most glaring upshot to be deduced from the list above is that Wetaskiwin’s City Manager is among the least paid in Alberta, despite meeting and even exceeding the criteria associated with the position.

If previous letters to The Wetaskiwin Times or The Pipestone Flyer are any indication then a few of the most frequently recited criticisms from residents of Wetaskiwin is that our infrastructure is in decline; criminal activity is on the rise; local businesses are struggling; vagrancy is pervasive; transparency and accountability is lacking, and there is an invariable inability to attract new business and investments. In other words, some of the very same issues every village, hamlet, town, and city must grapple with.

However one feels about the issues facing our city, it is unreasonable (although common) to impute just one person, i.e., the City Manager, for these or any other perceived deficiencies. To do so is to overlook that governance at the local level is exacted at the behest of a very disparate group of individuals (Council, for whom the CAO works), each with their own agenda, their own priorities, their own perspective, their own opinions, and their own wards to which they are answerable.

Council members, as we all know, can be poles apart on many of the issues facing Wetaskiwin, and they can be equally divided on the solutions to address them. The City Manager is tasked with the responsibility to provide all council members (including the Mayor), with his/her best professional administrative recommendations. It is the role of council to evaluate the information presented to them, to utilize their best judgment, their range of experiences, business acumen skills, expertise, etc., to find common ground, with the common purpose of transforming The City of Wetaskiwin into a place in which we can thrive and be proud to call home.

Lastly, everyone in Wetaskiwin has been encouraged, via feedback, opinion polls, engagement with council and public servants, local events, voting, and so forth to share with council your ideas and vision for your city. If we choose to be apathetic, we have no basis on which to deprecate council and our public servants for the valiant effort they indeed make in advancing and improving upon the city they love and in which they, too, reside.

And most definitely is there no place in our city, under any circumstances, for threats of violence. Such coercive tactics will not achieve for you your objectives. But it will, hopefully, get you arrested.

Colour. Boy. Mayor. Three ubiquitous words that separately are benign. But when combined and used in the odious context you (anonymous writer) intended, which was to abase and subjugate our mayor whom you consider beneath you because of the colour of his skin…well, in the eyes of many that pretty much broadcasts for all to see the hateful, bitter, and incongruent world you inhabit.

We all know someone or know of someone that shares your toxic, insular, bigoted and cretinous mindset. It would be easy to just dismiss your sickening rhetoric if not for the fact that there is in society, unfortunately, an element that is indifferent and even antithetical to the concept of dignity and worth and the right to life and self-determination, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Your expressions of hate only encourage like minded people and divides us further.

Your vile dehumanization of a truly authentic and principled man, a man that has for years diigently and enthusiastically, and in the absense of self-interest and fanfare, served our community in ways that has garnered him great respect and has endeared him to many, serves only to reinforce the reality that for some members of society it is what deems people “other” that matters more for xenophobics and bigots than does the outstanding good that a person contributes to society.

I am more inclined to believe, however, that in our city you are an anomaly. Given that you have chosen to conceal your identity, we may never know the circumstances that have led to the deprivation you cited, nor how you arrived at the decision that threats and intimidation would bring upon you anything but further adversity. But more importantly, that in exposing your intrinsic racism you imagined your plight, such as it is, would merit any notice or consideration from anyone, yet alone a willingness to understand, empathize, and help.

It goes without saying that we all should be alarmed and dismayed when our public servants and, by extension, members of their family, must fear for their safety when a citizen deems it appropriate to intimidate our officials rather than engage with them in meaningful dialogue.

It is always so easy to simply complain and criticize, and to lob insults and make arbitrary and false accusations against that which you are not yourself prepared to invest in and to commit your time and energy to repair or improve upon as you see fit, as is the case with the aggrieved writer of that repugnant missive.

It is up to all of us to celebrate those individuals in our community that dedicate themselves to elevating the quality of life in Wetaskiwin, oftentimes in ways we take for granted.

To quote Mayor Tyler Gandam, “words of hate, intolerance and discrimination have no place in our city.”

Please keep it respectful.

—Judy Dibbelt, Wetaskiwin