Councillor's expenses under scrutiny
Coldstream’s top spender has come under attack. But she says every dollar was well spent.
On top of earning $15,996 in remuneration for 2010, Coun. Maria Besso had the highest expenses out of her colleagues – $3,359.
Besso says hers are highest due to the fact that she attends more meetings on her own time – such as the North Okanagan Regional District.
“Why is Mrs. Besso attending these meetings on her own? She’s not appointed,” questioned resident John Hegler at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Hegler also questioned raises given to staff during tough economic times.
“As a taxpayer I object to this. If I want to go sit in a meeting you’re not going to pay me for this.”
Besso defends her decision to attend so many meetings.
“I make no apologies for trying to be better informed to make better decisions.”
Coun. Richard Enns defended Besso’s pay while questioning the work ethic of others.
“Coun. Besso has done a lot of work,” said Enns.
“If you look at Coun. (Pat) Cochrane you might find there might be some evaluation needed there,” said Enns, as Cochrane had no expenses.
Cochrane admits that with a full-time job he doesn’t have the time to commit to extra meetings like Besso does, but he praises her for dedicating so much of her time to the job.
“I have attended some meetings but I don’t put in for meeting pay. That’s just a personal choice I make,” said Cochrane, who feels the occasional extra meeting is part of the job.
He also states “one-third of our salary is tax free and that’s supposed to cover some of our costs.”