Working hard for the money

Inquiring minds may want to know just how much do our elected regional district officials pull in each year.

By Sheri Regnier, Trail Times

With the release of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) 2012 annual financial statements, inquiring minds may want to know, just how much do our elected officials pull in each year? The 13 member RDKB board directors and their alternates were paid a combined $347,000 in remuneration and expenses in 2012, up from $300,000 in 2011.

That may sound like a bundle, but pales in comparison to the $803,000 that 20 directors from the neighbouring Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) hauled in.

Although the RDCK encompasses a larger area and is populated by over 50,000 people compared to 30,000 in the RDKB, those statistics do not rule how much each elected official is paid.

“Remuneration for each regional district’s board of directors is independent of each other,” explained Grant Roeland, RDKB director of finance.

“How each person is compensated is a decision made by the boards themselves and written into bylaw.”

The RDKB bylaw stipulates that each director has a stipend of $551 per month of office: $367 remuneration and a $184 expense allowance.

Directors are also compensated for attending board meetings and chairing various committees.

Additionally, they are reimbursed for expenses while on the road for regional district business including mileage up to $40 per month (50 cents a kilometre) and travel time allowance of up to $73 per month.

The nine municipal directors receive between $13,000 and $15,000 per year in remuneration, with Barry Noll, director from Greenwood, at the bottom end with $1.081; $933 plus $148 in expenses. However that number is a bit misleading because Noll was a newly elected official, taking over the regional district chair from Albert Kettle for one month in 2012.

“In the early winter when I first became director, holy smokes there was so many meetings that varied from one to five hours. As far as money, there is no amount to compensate for the amount of time and effort spent because the job is about public service and representing your constituents,” said Noll.

“Right now, we are only doing one to two meetings a month but I am busy learning and coming up to speed on past issues that I wasn’t involved in.”

On a higher scale, and one with more power, is the chair of the board, a position with a 2013 base stipend of $1,911 per month.

Directors are paid a stipend for their service and then receive payment for committee meetings they attend, said chair Larry Gray.

Gray explained that directors are expected to be on duty for questions from the public or media and there are no standards nor expectations for the number of hours dedicated to RDKB work.

Gray received a remuneration of $36,000, compared to RDCK chair, John Kettle, who pulled in $69,000.

Gray said each director has responsibilities to attend official functions and general community sessions such as meetings about the Columbia River Treaty and flood control, with no special compensation.

“In May this year, I documented all the time I spent on RDKB business as board chair,” he said.

“It worked out to 120 hours which would be a three-quarter time job on a 40 hour work week.”

The five Area directors (Areas A through E) receive the most remuneration, with RDKB Area C director Grace McGregor the highest at $33,000.

This is almost in point with the 11 RDCK rural directors, who pulled in almost $32,000 each in 2012.

Rural directors receive a larger stipend than municipal directors because they have more responsibility to plan and hold advisory committee meetings and are required to respond to issues that arise, being the sole elected representative for the area.

The RDKB function has grown into a much more demanding role that 10 to 15 years ago, said Area A director Ali Grieve.

Although there is no minimum requirement to work a certain number of hours each month, preparing for meetings, sitting on subcommittees, reading agendas and public meetings consume many hours of time, added Grieve.

“This is not a ‘job’ for money,” she said.

“I once rounded this out to a return of about $2 an hour.”

On the staff side, the financial statement showed of the just over 150 RDKB employees, 27 people made $75,000 or more, accounting for $2.8 million paid from $7.2 million total remuneration.

The previous year, 28 people made over $75,000, totalling $2.7 million out of $6.8 million paid out to all employees combined.

Members of the RDKB’s Board of Directors are selected by electors in each Electoral Area for a three-year term, or appointed by the member municipal councils to serve a one-year term.