PENTICTON - The director with the highest remuneration and expenses in the regional district last year remains the top-grossing director for the second year in a row, although his remuneration and expenses were a little less in 2016.
This year’s Statement of Financial Interest was released for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen this week and shows Area G director Elef Christensen received $26,822 in remuneration, along with $10,826 in expenses, for a total of $37,648 in 2016.
That’s a drop of $1,583 over last year, but it’s still the most for a director without a chair or vice chair position.
Rural directors in Cawston and Princeton, electoral areas adjacent to Area G, had expenses less than half of Christensen's at $4,772 and $4,612 respectively.
Only Mark Pendergraft and Karla Kozakevich, who both occupied the board chair position last year, had higher remunerations and expenses. The board chair and vice-chair offer additional remuneration for the position.
Christensen, whose Area G is largely rural and relatively bylaw-free, also topped the director’s list last year with a combined $39,231 in remuneration and expenses in 2015.
“Don’t forget Area G is a large area and with less bylaws requires a lot of travel to Keremeos, Olalla and Penticton,” the Hedley-based director said in an email. “We have meetings for the Similkameen Valley Planning Society from Cawston to Princeton, Similkameen Recreation Commission, Advisory Planning Council, Olalla Local Community Commission and trails."
Christensen said when he travels to conferences such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, which was held last year in Winnipeg, he lobbies for grant money. He said he obtained over $600,000 in grants for the Olalla Water Works.
Other directors whose remuneration and expenses totalled more than $30,000 included West Bench director Michael Brydon ($33,645), Oliver rural Director Terry Schafer ($34,365), Cawston Area B director George Bush ($35,300) and Area H Director Robert Coyne ($32,503).
The board reduced its overall remuneration and expenses, shaving $165 from last year’s total remuneration of $420,125 to $419,960 in 2016, and $10,078 in expenses from the 2015 total of $67,851 to $57,773 in 2016.
Regional District finance supervisor Noelle Evans-MacEwan said newly elected directors attended additional meetings in 2015, which was one of the largest reasons for remuneration being higher in 2015. She said fewer directors attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in 2016 than in 2015.
"The UBCM is usually pretty expensive," she said, adding fewer directors attending accounted for a sizeable portion of the difference in annual expenses for the board.
A total of 23 employees at the regional district made more than $75,000 in 2016, the same number as in 2015.
Remuneration for staff increased from $5,747,522 in 2015 to $5,789,052, but expenses declined from $132,792 in 2015 to $80,443 in 2016.
Three employees made more than $100,000 last year, including chief adminstrative officer Bill Newell ($154,220), public works manager Roger Huston ($101,158) and community services manager Mark Woods ($100,035).
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