By George Brown
With town councils across central Alberta being challenged on their salaries and expense accounts, Mayor Larry Henkelman said Ponoka council needs to review its policy to ensure it reflects the wishes of ratepayers and is fair to the men and women who serve them.
He told council last week that at a mayors’ meeting he recently attended his contemporaries lamented that they’re taking heat for the meetings and appearances they’re claiming as being on behalf of their municipalities.
“It’s been a controversy all over Alberta, central Alberta,” he said.
No two municipalities pay their councils the same way, he added, and their policies are being challenged by taxpayers.
Henkelman chose not to identify any of the mayors on the hot seat but Rimbey Mayor Dale Barr has been criticized for taking home more than $66,000 in 2009. One-third of a councillor’s salary is tax-free.
Henkelman said town councillors in some towns are required to attend functions on their own time but they are not permitted by policy to claim it as an expense.
In Ponoka, an ad hoc committee has been formed to review how councillors are paid and for what expenses they will be reimbursed. That committee will make a report to council before the new town council is sworn into office after the Oct. 18 election.