$100k+ Club: City Hall top dogs steal the show

St. Catharines City Hall

St. Catharines City Hall

Despite 2020 being an extremely difficult year for most in Niagara, local chief administrative officers (CAOs) across Niagara appeared to be exempt from any financial distress.

Particularly, Fort Erie and Port Colborne CAOs Tom Kuchyt and Scott Luey who both saw large double digit increases to their compensation last year versus 2019.

Kuchyt, who has been with the Town of Fort Erie only a few years, received a 30% increase in total compensation over 2019, now totalling $224,420.93.  That’s an increase of $51,685.10 in a single year where many Fort Erie residents relied on COVID-19 relief aid.

Over in Port Colborne, Luey lucked out with a 15% increase in total compensation – now totalling $199,301.77 for 2020.  His increase was half that of Kuchyt but still a hefty $26,641.59 in additional cash.

Rounding out the top five raises given to Niagara’s CAOs are Wainfleet CAO William Kolasa who received a 6.3% increase and Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos’s 6.0% increase.  In total, Kolasa saw $148,479.41 in compensation in 2020 and Kirkopoulos $250,252.75.

Notably, Kirkopoulos was the second most expensive CAO amongst Niagara’s local municipalities despite the Town of Lincoln only having 23,787 residents.  Topping the list was Shelley Chemnitz of St. Catharines, who only earned $982.43 more than Kirkopoulos yet did so while managing a City of 133,113 residents.

Former Niagara-on-the-Lake CAO Holly Dowd still managed to receive $171,022.60 in 2020, despite leaving the Town in August 2019.  Interim CAO Randall Sheldon received $166,571.94 for his duties.

Residents living in the remaining municipalities in Niagara fared much better with the increases awarded to their community’s top bureaucrat limited to between 2-3%.  Notwithstanding, it is clear that for senior bureaucrats working in Niagara – the pandemic’s financial impacts evidently stopped at the doors of City Hall.

The Ontario Sunshine List as a whole has grown 23% according to the Canadian Taxpayer Federation; something that does not sit well with them.

“It’s outrageous that the government is handing out raises to already well-paid government employees at a time when taxpayers can least afford it,” said Jasmine Moulton, Ontario Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “This is further proof: we’re not all in this together.”

How your municipal CAO fared in 2020:

St. Catharines (Shelley Chemnitz):            $251,235.18

Lincoln (Mike Kirkopoulos):                         $250,252.75

Niagara Falls (Ken Todd):                              $248,366.80

Welland (Gary Long):                                      $230,283.31

Fort Erie (Tom Kuchyt):                                 $223,924.85

Grimsby (Harry Schlange):                            $221,636.45

Port Colborne (Scott Luey):                          $199,301.77

Thorold (Manoj Dilwaria):                             $194,699.37

West Lincoln (Bev Hendry):                         $193,997.42

Pelham (David Cribbs):                                  $183,217.57

Niagara-on-the-Lake (Holly Dowd):          $171,022.60

Niagara-on-the-Lake (Randall Sheldon): $166,571.94

Wainfleet (William Kolasa):                          $148,479.41

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