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Councillor responds to editorial
Just a quick explanation that should go along with the June 8 Morning Star editorial and article entitled; BX rep. defends compensation, and Director’s comments are off base.
Yes it is very good to have figures reported, and scrutiny given to politician’s wages and expenses in the newspaper, however, giving these figures with no attempt to give context and background to the story, is unfair.
What constitutes “remuneration”? What constitutes “expenses”? What are the differences between “Electoral Area Directors” (EA) and “Municipal Politicians”? What is the role of an EA at the Regional District?
Director Macnabb is the RDNO Director for Electoral Area ‘C’ (BX – Silver Star). Electoral Area Directors (EA’s) do not have the benefit of sharing the workload with other councillors, they may have an alternate director, but for the most part they are a one-man (or woman) show. Electoral Areas are unincorporated areas with vast geographic expanse so often times a lot of travel is necessary. As far as I can tell the ‘Base Remuneration’ for an EA is approx. $22,000 and then they get compensated an extra sum if they are the chair of any board committees. What constitutes most of the expenses for EA’s is; travel, accommodation, and conference fees, that are an essential part of the orientation, learning, and networking necessary for them to do a good job. To take away the incentive to go to conferences by scrutinizing the dollars so closely, and implying that these ‘expenses’ are frivolous, without analyzing what was gained in return, is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
At the Regional District of the North Okanagan there is a ‘Board’ made up of 13 directors, eight directors are selected from the elected municipal governments, and five from the electoral areas. Municipal councils in the North Okanagan generally have a seven-member council to share the workload (including the mayor). The mayor(s) select their respective directors to sit on the RDNO Board; three directors are from Vernon, and one from each municipal government of; Coldstream, Spallumcheen, Armstrong, Enderby, and Lumby. The remaining directors are one from each of the electoral areas; B, C, D, E and F.
The mayor and councillors selected to sit on the RDNO Board already receive a remuneration from the respective community, and the compensation they receive from RDNO to sit as a director is in addition to their other remuneration. For the electoral area directors, like Mike Macnabb, this remuneration is all they get.
Yes it is a good thing to ask politicians to try to keep costs down, so ask for a cheaper hotel room, or carpool to the conference, but should you forgo the conference altogether? As many politicians have defensively offered, “the networking value and professional development value of attending a well planned and organized conference is priceless.” The politician’s frustrations come from being confronted with this constant unrelenting effort on the part of taxpayer associations and media to drum out politicians with the highest ‘expenses’ each year. This is done without any comparison of the effort, efficiency, and time invested by various politicians. It becomes a destructive, senseless exercise, which results in the loss of the most hardworking politicians. The meager savings from lower expenses are quickly lost to missed opportunities in grants, contacts, and knowledge base, this does a great disservice to taxpayers in the long run!
Director Macnabb is a true asset to the regional district board, and particularly as a professional engineer, the taxpayers are getting him at a true bargain price. What the press needs to tell the taxpayers, is that because Director Macnabb goes to conferences and meetings he is informed, and interested in the work, and he does a very good job for the taxpayers.
Mr. Macnabb’s defensive response is not “off base,” but the sensational attack, is!