Armstrong councillors defend expenditures

Shirley Fowler believes her expenses are well justified.

The Armstrong councillor topped the list of expenses submitted by councillors last year, according to the city’s 2011 annual report.

Each of the six councillors was paid $12,078 in remuneration while Fowler submitted expenses of $3,098, just $5 more than Mayor Chris Pieper (who earned $21,226) and $11 higher than Sully O’Sullivan.

“The expenses are for businesses associated with being a councillor,” said Fowler, who attended the Southern Interior Local Government Association and Union of B.C. Municipalities conventions in 2011 on behalf of the city. “It’s to promote the ability to do the job properly, and it’s definitely justified.”

Councillors John Trainor, Kelly Rowe and Paul Britton did not submit any expenses in 2011, while Coun. Ryan Nitchie claimed $2,477.

The annual report is a snapshot into the details regarding everything about the city, the “dollars and cents, nuts and bolts and summary of objectives,” as explained by Trainor, the head of the city’s finance committee.

It lists all employees in Armstrong earning $75,000 or more, and there are four, topped by administrator Patti Ferguson, the only employee making more than $100,000 ($115,454). The other three are chief financial officer Terry Martens ($86,248), public works manager Pat Hickerson ($82,864) and water/waste-water operator Kerry Fox ($75,307), for a total of $359,873.

All other city employees combined make just under $460,000, so the city spends $819,115 on its staff.

One of the topics that caught Trainor’s ear during Martens’ presentation of the annual report is something accountants use to measure the financial health of a city, and that’s long-term debt per capita.

The figure measures the city’s debt load for each person in the community.

In 2010, the number was $323.28 per person, but in 2011, the figure dipped considerably to $192.94.

“It’s hard to know exactly what the numbers are everywhere else, but Terry assures us ours is one of the lowest numbers in the province,” said Trainor. “It’s a prime number that indicates the city’s finances are being managed responsibly.”





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