Payment for meetings attended by Ponoka town council members has at last been set.
A motion was presented at their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 12 to approve the latest revision of the town’s council, board and committee remuneration policy that was changed and passed last October and then reviewed three times prior to being formally approved last week.
The issues that remained on the table included exactly what sub-committees the mayor and councillors sit on would be eligible for a per diem, revisions to the payment form, how many meetings someone could miss without being docked pay and whether committee of the whole meetings would be included.
Chief administrative officer for Ponoka Albert Flootman explained the latest version took into account the outstanding concerns from the June 14 meeting regarding some of the special event sub-committees that were and were not listed along with ensuring councillors that sit on boards as a member-at-large – such as the Ponoka Jubilee Library Board and Subdivision and Development Appeal Board – were included as being allowed to receive payments for meetings.
Councillor Marc Yaworski had trouble accepting or understanding why councillors who sit on sub-committees should receive pay when they are alongside members of the public who volunteer their time to participate.
Mayor Rick Bonnett attempted to explain it as a way of ensuring people would be willing to run for public office.
“It’s the same principle as for committee of the whole. As much as we want to give back to the community and have our staff do their best, what is another 1,200 dollars – about $12,000 to $15,000 a year,” Bonnett stated.
“We have to pre-read and deal with a lot of information. Council members do give lots of time, effort and money for this job and it starts to chip away at people’s livelihoods. We want people to run and ensure good people run and are here to do a good job.”
Councillor Carla Prediger just wanted to move forward and expects to be active in all sorts of committees, but the perception of council deciding their own pay just looks bad.
Bonnett agreed, but added when it comes down to it, they need to decide and can’t keep tossing it back on administration.
But before the motion could reach a vote, councillor Teri Underhill came up with a few amendments that were necessary – which included further changes to the claim form, plus adding committee of the whole as a paid meeting in addition to reducing the number of meetings missed back to three from the suggested five before pay is docked.
Council approved the amended motion unanimously, councillor Tim Falkiner was absent.
In the article ‘Pay for town councillors’ extra functions finalized’ on page 10 of the July 20 edition, Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett in explaining why he wanted to see committee of the whole as a regular paid meeting stated the cost at a per diem rate of $35/hour would be about $1,200 per member, $12,000 to $15,000 per year. The annual amount is a reference to the sum to be paid for all of the members of council for the committee of the whole meetings throughout the year.
In addition, the original motion to approve the meeting and sub-committee remuneration was made by Councillor Marc Yaworski while Councillor Prediger proposed the change for reducing the number of missed meetings from five to three before $200 deduction from a council member’s honorarium is imposed for every meeting missed thereafter.Councillor Underhill moved that the Per Diem Claim Form be amended by adding the Economic Development Board and the Ponoka Jubilee Library Board as per diem eligible meetings.
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