by Colin Smith
The number of full-time employees a municipality has relative to population is a strong indicator of whether its spending is under control.
That conclusion is contained in the Alberta Municipal Spending Watch Report recently released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“Generally, municipalities that have a lower resident per municipal worker ratio operating spending is higher,” the report states. “For example, Airdrie has one full-time worker for every 167 residents. Meanwhile, Strathcona County has one full-time worker for every 61 residents.
“With wages and benefits as the biggest driver of municipal costs, its critical taxpayers know how many people work at their city hall.”
The report looked at the province’s 17 largest municipalities in 2017 and found that, along with the highest and lowest numbers noted above, there were 95 residents in Edmonton for each full-time equivalent employee, 80 in Calgary and 100 in St. Albert.
Morinville News made comparisons among some local municipalities, and none of them are either the best or the worst in these terms.
The numbers below are approximate, because of varying dates of the population count.
Morinville, with a population of 9,848 residents and 84 full-time equivalent employees, has 117 residents per employee.
The population of Sturgeon County is 20,495, with 221 staff budgeted for in 2019, for a ratio of 93 residents per employee.
Redwater has about 84 residents per employee, based on 22 full-time and five permanent part-time staff (with a few seasonal summer students) and an official population of 2,053.
The Town of Gibbons, with a population of 3,159, has 22 full-time equivalent workers, for a ratio of 144 residents for each employee.
The Town of Bon Accord, with a population of 1,529, has 14 full-time equivalent workers for a ratio of 109 for each full-time employee.
Finally, Legal has the highest number of residents per full-time employee in the local area, at about 158. The population of Legal is 1,345, and there are typically eight full-time staff members and one half-time employee.
Robert Proulx, Chief Administrative Officer of Legal, commented that when analyzing municipal employment, the degree of service being provided must be considered.
“For example, the Town operates the arena, but for some municipalities, this falls under an agricultural society,” he said. “Also, we are doing our own waste collection, whereas most contract the service to a third party like GFL.”