Some interesting figures from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy with a chart giving the percentage of operating expenses devoted to salaries and benefits in various municipalities across the country.
• There is a wide variation in SBE: [Salary and Benefit Expense] The lowest SBE municipalities spend less than half of what the highest spend on SBE.
• All the municipalities presented here have a very high SBE by international standards. In jurisdictions such as New Zealand and Australia, the sector average is below 30 per cent.
• There are two possible explanations for this international disparity. a) Canadian municipalities are responsible for additional labour-intensive activities such as policing and, particularly in Ontario, social services. b) The relatively lower use of external contractors and the performance-based staff payments mean higher labour costs. [link to source– emphases ours]
If the proportion of the budget required for salaries and benefits is considered high, this is often highlighted in an auditor’s variance analysis. We notice that Halifax sits at 50%. We wonder where Wolfville would place on the chart.