It turns out the rumours about another pay equity complaint here are true.
Mapleton Township has doled out $86,794 in compensation to a number of municipal employees who did not have access to take home vehicles owned by the township.
A letter received by the Wellington Advertiser on Monday from Clerk Patty Sinnamon states that the “retroactive compensation adjustments” are intended to cover a four year period, beginning in 2004 and ending in March of this year.
Last month, at least one township employee was denied the right to take home a municipally owned vehicle, and the compensation is intended to cover four years worth of costs incurred by other employees who did not have the opportunity to use a township vehicle.
Several sources in Mapleton allege that payments ranged from $3,000 to $4,000 for each municipal employee who received the compensation, although township officials would not comment on individual payouts, citing privacy concerns.
Sinnamon stated that because the township is a public sector employee, it is subject to provisions of the Pay Equity Act, which requires the municipality to maintain equity with respect to changes in job descriptions or circumstances that might adversely affect female job classes.
“The Township of Mapleton has been ordered by the Pay Equity Commission to make adjustments … [where] a benefit was provided to a male job class and not to the female job class,” Sinnamon’s statement read.
“This benefit relates to the provision of a municipally-owned vehicle provided to a male job class for personal use. Legislation requires that the value of the benefit provided to a male job class must be applied to the job rate of affected female job classes.”
There was no indication from Sinnamon about who, if anyone, asked for the compensation payments, and it is unclear what brought the issue to the attention of township officials.
The letter from Sinnamon was obtained by this Newspaper through a written request filed last week under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Previous verbal requests for that information were denied by the township.
Several weeks ago, the Advertiser was contacted by a few concerned Mapleton residents who offered tips about the rumours, which turned out to be accurate.
The residents alleged that after revoking take-home privileges from up to three employees, the township secretly awarded all other employees payments totalling around $90,000.
When contacted at that time, Sinnamon admitted there was a recent pay equity issue, but said the $90,000 figure was incorrect. She would not reveal the actual total, and noted she should not even have said as much as she did.
“I can confirm that we’ve had to do pay equity adjustments, but other than that, I can’t say anything,” Sinnamon said in an interview.
Like the clerk, Mayor John Green initially offered little information.
“I can’t talk about that,” Green said in an interview a few weeks ago. “There was an issue there, and I believe it’s been settled.”
Both Green and Sinnamon did confirm early on that the “pay equity” issue was based on one truck only. Green also said that any issues to do with employee compensation are dealt with during closed sessions of council.
The mayor and clerk told the Advertiser they could not reveal any further information because it has to do with employee wages, which are protected by privacy legislation.
Officials at the Advertiser disagreed, and on April 18 filed the freedom of information request with the township.
That letter stated that the Newspaper was not asking for personal information about what each employee received, just basic details about a policy decision, including the total dollar amount paid to all employees.
“In no way whatsoever would disclosure of this information violate the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” the letter from the Advertiser stated.
The letter also stated that the Newspaper would be publishing an article on the issue in the April 25 edition, and, “We feel it would be in the best interests of everyone involved – the township, the Newspaper, and Mapleton taxpayers – if this information was provided as soon as possible.”
By law, the township has 30 days to provide a response to freedom of information requests, but just several hours later, Sinnamon replied by phone, saying the information would be forwarded by April 21, after it was reviewed by the township’s lawyer (and it was).
This is not the first time Mapleton Township has dealt with a “pay equity” issue that turned out to be unpopular with many residents.
Several years ago, the township was forced to award office staff a footwear allowance that was previously reserved for employees who required work boots to perform their jobs.