Area G director Elef Christensen offered little to no explanation as to why his expenses in 2017 were about 30 per cent higher than the chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
Following Thursday’s board meeting where the Statement of Financial Information was received, Christensen was elusive with reporters who wanted details about the $12,418 he filed for expenses.
“I haven’t seen my thing, so I won’t comment on any of that,” he said despite receiving the agenda for the meeting the week prior and that he files expenses monthly to the RDOS.
In comparison, the chair of the board Karla Kozakevich, who is also the director for Area E (Naramata) claimed $8,360 in expenses, about $4,000 less than Christensen.
When asked what constituents get in Area G for the expenses particularly related to a federal conference, Christensen pointed out a $600,000 grant used to upgrade the Olalla water system.
The grant was not received in 2017 nor announced at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference held last June in Ottawa. The cost to Area G constituents to send Christensen to the conference in 2017 was almost $3,500. Broken down the cost is as follows: $880.82 for hotel stay, $937.90 for registration and an additional $1,639.18 was claimed for travel during the time period of the conference for a total of $3,457.90.
Kozakevich told the Western News she does not attend the federal conference because she doesn’t think there is value in it for her constituents in Area E nor the regional district. She said she did attend FCM five years ago in Vancouver because it cost less.
“When FCM is across the country. I always look at the agenda for every FCM to see what the focus is and I often find that the focus is on larger municipalities and that’s usually who is hosting them … some of their seminars or speakers tend to be a duplication of what we can get at UBCM or SILGA,” she said.
Expenses from directors include mainly mileage, conferences and meal per diems when required.
When asked about the gap, Christensen offered an explanation that perhaps the chair had not claimed all her expenses.
Kozakevich told the Western she claimed all her applicable expenses.
Christensen who lives in Hedley is one of the farthest away directors from the regional district office. Bob Coyne director for Area H (Tulameen/Rural Princeton) lives even farther away and claimed $4,105 in expenses.
In addition to mileage and FCM, Chirstensen also filed expenses for attending the Southern Interior Local Government Association, Union of B.C. Municipalities and Local Government Leadership Academy. Christensen was the only director at RDOS to attend all four conferences.
In addition to expenses, Christensen received $26,939 in remuneration. His alternate Roger Mayer claimed $276 for expenses and received $3,035 for remuneration.
The total cost for remuneration and expenses for 18-member board and alternates was $473,992.
The other directors expenses and remuneration are: Mark Pendergraft, Area A (Rural Osoyoos) $5,165, $30,347; Terrt Schafer, Area C (Rural Oliver) $4,664, $28,322; Tom Siddon, Area D (Kaleden) $4,569, $27,023; Frank Armitage, Princeton, $4,013, $13,696; George Bush (Cawston), $2,121, $29,182; Manfred Bauer (Keremeos/RDOS vice-chair), $2,026, $18,966; Michael Brydon, Area F (West Bench), $1,619, $31,499; Suzan McKortoff, (Osoyoos), $1,391, $12,044; Ron Hovanes, (Oliver), $1,068, $12,516; Toni Boot, (Summerand), $435, $12,920; Peter Waterman (Summerland) $431, $12,995; Andrew Jakubeit, (Penticton), $352, $14,143; Judy Sentes (Penticton) $71, $13,038 and Helena Konanz (Penticton), $0, $13,527.