Town of Ponoka Councillor Loanna Gulka

Ponoka town council declines conference reimbursement

Ponoka town council defeated a request by Coun. Loanna Gulka for reimbursement of a conference she attended.

Ponoka town council defeated a request by Coun. Loanna Gulka for reimbursement of a conference she attended.

The request came from Gulka April 23 during the regular meeting of council after she explained that she attended a municipal inclusion conference not previously approved.

“I attended the municipal inclusion conference without going through the proper channels in terms of the way we do things now,” said Gulka.

“I overlooked it and didn’t think of it at the time,” she added.

Last July council approved its procedural bylaw, which indicates members of council may claim per diems for attending approved conferences. The inclusion conference was not on the list.

Gulka asked council to approve the conference fee of $50, two days per diem and for travel. It was later clarified to Ponoka News that Gulka intended it to be one and a half day per diem. The full breakdown of the costs are the $50 fee, $390 for the day and a half per diem, $100 for the travel (54 cents per kilometre) and $119 for one night at the hotel.

She offered that she is not going to a different conference that was approved. That conference was on community planning and the registration costs were $550 plus three full days, explained Gulka.

Coun. Carla Prediger took issue with the request pointing out issues such as this one were addressed with the approval of the procedural bylaw.

“If we don’t leave this as your decision based on your desire to be at a conference that is not indicative based on your committee work, is not indicative based on your planning ahead of time, I don’t understand why we as council would approve it,” stated Prediger.

The inclusion conference was hosted through Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Alberta Human Rights Commission and held discussions on inclusion in municipalities related to culture, ethnic diversity and the LGBTQ community as well as seniors with disabilities. It was held March 16 and 17 in Edmonton.

Coun. Marc Yaworski offered his support for Gulka and suggested taking the conference without approval wasn’t on purpose.

Council voted 3-2 against the request with Yaworski and Coun. Tim Falkiner in favour. Mayor Rick Bonnett, Prediger and Coun. Teri Underhill voted against the request. Gulka recused herself from the decision and Coun. Sandra Lyon was not in attendance.

Town briefs, fee waiver and sponsorship

Council approved a request from the Boys and Girls Club of Wolf Creek to waive fees for water utilities and swimming in support of the club’s programming.

This is the third year in a row council has supported the request, which amounts to water utility fees of $2,200 and $1,000 in swimming fees.

Council also approved a request to sponsor the Broncs bantam football program amounting to $250 for a T-shirt sponsorship. This is the second year the request has been approved.