July 29, 2014 - 4:05 PM
KAMLOOPS – Tk’emlups te Secwepemc is one of just a handful of First Nations councils to comply with new federal regulations disclosing its finances — and some of the results may surprise you.
The band paid its chief and seven councillors $723,822 in salaries and expenses last year, according to statements filed under the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Governing a population of 2,577, that works out to $280.82 per person they represent.
That's more than twice the amount paid to the mayor and eight councillors on Kamloops City Council. They were paid $293,119 in salary and expenses last year. With a population of 73,472, the cost per represented population is $4.52.
All First Nations in the country are required to file financial information this month. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation claims partial credit for pushing the federal government to create the law after it exposed exhorbitant salaries paid to chiefs and councillors across the country. So far, only a few of the 600 or so bands in Canada have reported, or have had their results posted online.
This is the first opportunity the media and the public have had to scrutinize the books of First Nations, including Tk-emlups. The financial statements reveal the band is in relatively good financial shape with $43 million in reserves, topped up last year with a $3 million surplus.
Band chief Shane Gottfriedson would likely escape the taxpayer federation's finger pointing with his $92,362 in tax free salary, benefits and expenses — in 2013, Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar took home $98,138 in salary, benefits and expenses (one-third of salary is tax free).
The greater difference comes in payment to councillors. Band councillors made between $79,840 to $84,580. In Kamloops, councillors make just under $25,000 per year.
These comparisons are made only because of proximity to each other. Infonews.ca is seeking clarification from the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc on councillor roles and finances. Attempts to reach Gottfriedson or the band were unsuccessful.
Gottfriedson self-disclosed his salary at $58,000 in 2010.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014