Council turns down changes to expense policy

Council unanimous in vetoing staff recommendations regarding updates to council’s expense policy

 

Keremeos Village Ccouncil passed the Terms of Reference with respect to a  Request For Proposal issued after  council’s recent decision to seek a contractor to conduct a core services review of the village.

The issue, which came up publicly at the November 5 regular meeting of council,  has proven to be somewhat contentious, as the RFP put forward by council did not legally require the issuance of a Terms of Reference. Council proceeded to do so, however, at the request of CAO Laurie Taylor, even though several packages already sent to prospective contractors already had included in them the Terms of Reference.

Council received letters from the premier’s office (thanking the village for their support to increase persons with disabilities benefit) as well as a letter from the Union of B.C. Municipalities for a grant application for a Regional Community to Community Forum that required approval in principle for the village’s intent to participate in the forum. Council responded with a letter outlining village intent to participate.

Council also received a letter from the Ministry of Justice advising that the province was seeking input from those directly impacted by the October 27 earthquake in Haida Gwai.

Councillor Cowling told council that the village light up for Christmas would take place on December 7 this year. Volunteers are needed for this event, anyone interested is asked to be present for a 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Infocentre on November 15.

Council found a few items not to their liking with respect to an updated travel expenses  policy presented for adoption at the meeting.

Council took issue with a policy that would see staff make all arrangements for hotel accommodations during convention sojourns, as well as a another policy that would have seen council limited to no more than two councillors attending the UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalties) convention, or SILGA (Southern Interior Local Government Association) convention.

Council also took exception to a mileage chart included in the policy which appeared to have a number of incorrect mileage totals included.

 

Council felt they should have input in hotel selection when travelling, as they better understood their own needs in terms of location, etc. (The hotel selections would be based on single,  standard hotel room fare at the government or conference rate).

Council also felt the need to leave the number of potential attendees open as opposed to limiting the number of councillors allowed to attend any given function, citing the changing informational needs of various councils, and the need for flexibility when it came to providing the potential educational opportunities offered to new councillors through these conventions.

 

“We have exercised restraint in these matters in the past,” explained Mayor Bauer, “ I don’t believe it’s necessary to limit the number of council that can potentially attend.”

Council eliminated the mileage chart from the document in addition to requesting changes to council attendance sections and accommodation booking.

Council approved a rental offer for the basement of Victory Hall. Ron Hovanes, a contractor to Community Living BC will rent the basement of the hall at a cost of $915.20 per month, including utilities except for telephone and internet.

Council passed the council remuneration and expenses bylaw. The issue was discussed at the previous regular meeting, in which council opted to forgo any changes to their remuneration.

Question period included further queries regarding the process followed in seeking a contractor to conduct the core review. Two members of the gallery expressed their agreement with council’s decision to take on a core service review.

Council was also urged not to waste time in completing the Similkameen Valley Watershed Study, noting that the deadline for completion  (to qualify for the gas tax grant funding of $500,000) was 2015.

A question asked by a village staff employee asked council if they had considered doing an internal review.

“We feel an external review is necessary to be credible to taxpayers,” responded Mayor Bauer.

“Internal reviews are supposed to be an ongoing process.

This is the first time this has been done in Keremeos, but it is not unusual,” he added, noting that Keremeos and Princeton were the only regional district municipalities who have yet to conduct one.

 

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