Most Canadians associate the first of July with warm and fuzzy memories, considering the fact the vast majority of us get the day off to sleep in, go to the lake and maybe guzzle a couple of beers.
Winnipeggers, however, may not want to celebrate on Canada Day 2014. That's because July 1, 2014 is a date when residents of this city will learn precisely how much money the City of Winnipeg paid out to former chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl this year.
Don't be surprised if that number is in the vicinity of $443,000, a figure equal to 10 months worth of 2013 salary plus one year's worth of severance, thanks to a package approved by council's executive policy committee on Thursday morning.
Every Canada Day, the City of Winnipeg must release its annual compensation disclosure, which lists off payouts to every employee who earned more than $50,000 in a given year.
Sheegl, who served as the head of Winnipeg's public service from 2011 until his resignation this week, was slated to earn approximately $243,000 this year in salaries and benefits. Pro-rated to 10 months of work, that grants him a base salary of $200,000 for 2013.
Add in a year of severance, and Sheegl will earn about $443,000. This will either appear on the books this year or will be spread out over two years, which is an accounting option open to the City of Winnipeg.
One year's worth of severance pay is a normal payout for a senior member of the public service who departs without getting fired.
In 2007, former police chief Jack Ewatski earned $361,226 for about six months' work. The same year, former chief administrative officer Annitta Stenning earned $343,500 for about nine months' work. Stenning also received another $50,000 in 2008, the year after she left the city.
In other words, it won't be unprecedented for Sheegl to walk away from the city with nearly a half-million dollars in salary and severance.
But it may still come as an affront to residents of this city, many of whom hold the former CAO responsible for some of the problems that have afflicted the City of Winnipeg since he was hired as the director of planning, property and development in 2008.
Sheegl was a controversial choice from the start, given his friendship to Mayor Sam Katz and absence of administrative experience. While some members of council saw him as a breath of straight-talking fresh air, he soon gave his critics reason to remain skeptical.
In the fall of 2008, Sheegl was property director when council narrowly approved a plan to retroactively amend a lease of city land to Riverside Park Management, a company that sublets city land to the Katz-owned Winnipeg Goldeyes. That change saved Riverside Park $233,000.
In the summer of 2009, as deputy chief administrator, he enraged River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow by almost walking the Parker land swap onto the final property-committee agenda of the summer.
As deputy CAO, Sheegl also helped put together a $135-million new police-headquarters project that's costing the city $194 million (and counting) and helped nail down a guaranteed maximum price of $190 million for a new football stadium that's costing the Winnipeg Football Club $204 million (and, hopefully, not counting).
And as Winnipeg's CAO, he oversaw the disastrous rollout of a water-park plan at The Forks and the fallout from the scandal regarding the fire-paramedic-station replacement program, which he claimed to be aware of only from a level of "50,000 feet."
There is no evidence Sheegl was directly involved on the decision to build a fire-paramedic station on privately owned land, arrange a three-for-one land swap for that property or have any hand in any other aspect of the fire-paramedic station construction project.
But since the review into the project is coming out on Monday -- and he was the person in charge of the public service -- it wasn't much of a surprise to see Sheegl resign beforehand.
What is surprising is all seven members of executive policy committee allowed him to take home a severance package before the review came out. If he is found culpable, many Winnipeggers are going to be angry on Canada Day 2014.
And if he isn't, well -- they may be angry anyway. It's hard for the average person to look at $443,000 in compensation and wonder why the heck they don't get a chance to be the chief administrative officer of the City of Winnipeg.
Happy Canada Day, everyone.