Mystery correspondence has created a stir at the Regional District of North Okanagan.
On Wednesday, it was disclosed that all directors had received an e-mail suggesting the City of Vernon financially subsidizes the cost of RDNO governance and specifically directors’ salaries. There is no signature on the e-mail and the e-mail address is a gmail account.
“This is BS. This is to stir the pot and create a poor reflection (on the regional district),” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.
The e-mail lists all of RDNO’s member jurisdictions and then provides figures it states are contributions paid to directors’ pay in 2015, actual pay, the difference and the subsidy. The e-mail states that Vernon provided a subsidy of $106,016 in 2015.
“There is significant information that isn’t factual,” said David Sewell, chief administrative officer.
While the e-mail appears focused on one account used to fund governance, Sewell points out that another account is also used to cover costs related to the five electoral areas and the electoral areas only pay into that fund.
“Some of the smaller municipalities contribute less and some of the larger municipalities contribute more,” said Sewell, adding that contributions are based on converted land and improvements in each jurisdiction under provincial legislation.
Officials also insist that directors don’t just represent their home communities but work on behalf of the region while at the board table.
“They (e-mail writer) don’t recognize the role of the regional district. We’re a federation and we support each other,” said Macnabb.
Staff was instructed to gather the remuneration figures for 2015 and how governance is structured so it can be provided to the public.
However, there appears to be little appetite to reach out to the author of the e-mail.
“Unless they identify themselves, there will be no response on the issue,” said Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon director.
Beyond the e-mail, though, there are some calls to look at how regional district governance is financed.
“There is a cost for all of us to sit at this table,” said Bob Spiers, a Vernon director.
“It should be equally born among the 14 directors. The city would be responsible for four.”
Akbal Mund, a Vernon director, refuses to say the city is subsidizing RDNO governance, but he adds, “the city is paying more than it’s fair share for its representatives.”
The Morning Star has reached out to the writer of the e-mail but has not received a reply.