Thirty-three years after it was first legislated, directors of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District voted unanimously to approve a new policy governing their conduct surrounding personal expenses for staff and elected officials.
Finance manager Jodi Kooistra sought amendments on the policy that affects both staff and directors because there were no guidelines that set limits on meal expenditures, room upgrades or partner programs.
As well, there was a lack of consistency in how expense claims were processed.
Previous discussions regarding the new policy generated questions and comments regarding directors’ responsibility in choosing the cheapest mode of transportation, hotels and meals.
Kooistra reiterated the policy declares directors and staff are expected to “utilize the most cost-effective method of travel considering time, convenience and safety.”
Kooistra made clear that meal expenses for business outside of CSRD limits are on a strictly per diem basis.
Within CSRD limits, detailed receipts are required to prevent fraudulent use of the per diem.
Rural area directors initially balked at approving the policy, sending it back to the Electoral Area Directors (EAD) committee meeting for further discussion.
Following this, a few minor changes were made to the policy including setting a two-tiered per diem rate for meals, as it was felt that costs were higher in the Greater Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler areas.