Taxpayers didn't have to pay the expenses of the City of Kelowna's most travelled employees | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Taxpayers didn't have to pay the expenses of the City of Kelowna's most travelled employees

The City of Kelowna's biggest spending employees mostly work at the airport.
June 25, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - When it comes to expense claims for City of Kelowna employees, one stands far above the rest.

Sam Samaddar, as Kelowna airport director, racked up $27,633 in expenses in 2018. He was one of only five employees who claimed more than $10,000 in expenses –  four of whom also work at the airport.

The reason for such high expenses comes down to the significant role he and others play on the Canadian Airport Council, which has offices in Ottawa.

“The Canadian Airport Council is essentially the voice for Canada’s airports,” Shayne Dyrdal, the airport’s Senior Finance and Corporate Services Manager, said to “It acts as the federal representative for airports on a wide range of significant issues and concerns and there’s a variety of people at YLW that participated in a variety of groups within that council.”

It also does not pay expenses for such participation. In Kelowna, those costs are paid out of Airport Improvement Fees so there is no cost to taxpayers unless they fly out of the airport.

Neil Drachenberg, the airport’s safety and security manager, claimed $10,108 in expenses in 2018 and Phillip Elchitz the senior airport operating manager claimed $10,032. In both cases those were slight increases from the previous two years and, in both cases, they are involved with the council.

Samaddar is currently chair of the council after serving two years as vice-chair. His expenses in 2017 were $21,517 and in 2016 were $22,479.

The council represents 100 airports across the country and lists half a dozen conferences coming during the rest of the year in places like Atlanta, Tampa and Seattle. They cover topics like airport safety, security and noise abatement.

The fourth airport worker to rack up big expense claims was Dyrdal. She jumped to $17,150 in claims for 2018 from around $4,500 in each of the previous two years.

She, too, is involved with the council but, last year, joined in national Airport Improvement Fee negotiations, which is why her expenses were so much higher.

The only other city employee to claim more than $10,000 in expenses last year was J. Garcia Batres, the city’s biosolids supervisor, at $10,112.

In all, the city paid $849,109 for employee expenses and wages of almost $74 million.

On the political side, Mayor Colin Basran claimed $12,771 in expenses, almost half the total of $30,286 claimed by council as a whole. Mayor and council wages totaled $366,779.



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