UPDATE: Former CAO was, by far, TNRD's highest paid staff member last year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Former CAO was, by far, TNRD's highest paid staff member last year

June 18, 2021 - 2:46 PM

The former CAO of the Thompson Nicola Regional District was the highest paid staff member in 2020, and continues to be paid for a total of four-and-a-half months of vacation time.

Although he retired in mid-February 2020, Sukh Gill was paid $272,293 last year, as part of his severance agreement and roughly $50,000 more than his 2019 salary. No other staff member earned more than $160,000 last year.

The severance package, including 139 days of vacation time, is to be paid out over 20 months, ending this fall and totalling $346,723.

Board chair Ken Gillis said the former CAO "hardly ever" used his vacation time, but he added that the fact that Gill was able to accrue four-and-a-half months of salary with no limitations is "ridiculous."

"We've remedied that situation. It won't happen again," Gillis said. He wasn't aware of the specific changes that were made to vacation time policies, but he said there will be an expiry so employees can't accrue them indefinitely.

The 2020 regional district remuneration report also shows that in the month-and-a-half that Gill was still employed as CAO, he claimed $5,051 in expenses — a total many employees did not reach in the entire year of 2020.

A year-long investigation by Kamloops This Week into spending at the regional district revealed exorbitant spending and raised questions about Gill's retirement.

Since the investigation, a forensic audit into regional district spending began this spring. In a board meeting on June 17, CAO Scott Hildebrand said the audit is roughly 50% complete.

"We are trying to be as transparent as possible, but we are bound by the structures of the Privacy Act. It's not just transparency," Gillis, said. "We also have to abide by our terms of agreement with Mr. Gill."

The RCMP has also been conducting a financial irregularity investigation into regional district spending.

Subsequent to his departure, there were things that made us wonder more," Gillis said. Whatever those findings were, they initiated efforts to have both the forensic investigation sought and a separate RCMP investigation. Gillis did not say exactly what other information was found.

While interest has continued into spending practices and the nature of Gill's departure, Gillis said he expects it to increase in the anticipation, and results, of the ongoing forensic audit.

A report from BDO, the firm conducting the forensic audit, is expected in the July board meeting at the TNRD, with the full report to be presented in August.

— This story was updated at 2:46 p.m., June 18, 2021, to clarify that no other employee earned over $160,000 at the Thompson Nicola Regional District. Two employees did earn a salary above $150,000 in 2020, contrary to a previous version of this story. As well, comment from regional district board chair Ken Gillis was added.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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