Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City offers payroll deductions for Fish tickets

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THE city offers its employees the opportunity to use a payroll deduction to buy tickets to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, a business Mayor Sam Katz owns.

On Wednesday, city employees received an email inviting them to have their 2014 Goldeyes purchase deducted from their pay. The city has made this offer to employees since 2006, according to city spokesman Steve West.

The city also offers a payroll-deduction option for Winnipeg Blue Bombers tickets and charitable donations to the United Way and the Employees'/Retirees' Charitable Fund, West said.

Under the city's code of conduct, employees can accept any offer available to people in other organizations, said West, adding what the city does is similar to other payroll-deduction programs.

"This is a convenience offered to employees; again, the same as is done in other organizations. This is not an encouragement or city endorsement of the Goldeyes," West said in a statement.

"In addition, the fact that we offer this opportunity for one professional sporting organization means we would not be able to exclude similar organizations seeking to have the same opportunity.

"We don't believe that offering an optional payroll-deduction purchase program makes staff feel pressure to donate to charity, purchase baseball or football tickets or buy Canada Savings Bonds."

The mayor's office suggested in a statement there is nothing unusual about the Goldeyes offer.

"The City of Winnipeg has, for many years, offered its employees a number of automatic payroll-deduction opportunities. These deductions are standard at many large organizations, such as the Workers Compensation Board and Motor Coach Industries," a Katz spokeswoman said in a statement.

Katz was first elected mayor in 2004. At the time, Bomber tickets could be purchased by city employees via payroll deduction. The city also used to offer deductions for the now-defunct Crocus Investment Fund.

The province's employee payroll-deduction options include a "phonebook-sized list" of registered charities, Manitoba Hydro bonds and the Bombers, said a spokesman for the Selinger government.

Manitoba Hydro's payroll-deduction options for its employees include donations to seven charities, fees for three downtown parking lots, passes for Winnipeg Transit and memberships to four gyms, including the privately owned Good Life Fitness, spokesman Glenn Schneider said in a statement.

The city offer to deduct the cost of Goldeyes tickets from its employees' pay sends the wrong message, said Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is considering a mayoral run in 2014.

"In a time when we're under heightened scrutiny, I don't know why we would continue to do this sort of thing," said Havixbeck, who also questioned devotings scarce city resources to this offer. "If the budget is so tight (that) we have to send people home without pay, is this something we should be doing?"

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

 

If the City offers payroll deductions for Bomber tickets, is there any reason it shouldn’t do the same for the Goldeyes? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2013 B1

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