Town councillors are getting closer to finding a concrete remuneration policy that makes it clear what can be claimed as an expense.
Councillors met Thursday, May 19 during the committee of the whole meeting and heard that new definitions add clarity to the council remuneration policy. CAO Albert Flootman said definitions were added that he feels should have been there in the first place.
Per diem rates are clearer as are travel arrangements. “There’s travel time allotted in there as well,” said Flootman.
Out of town meetings and travel are included in the new policy, something Mayor Rick Bonnett wanted to see. He said there were days he met with ministers in Edmonton with the meeting time just 40 minutes and he had to claim only that time and no travel. Yet, his day was used up.
“It’s a standard remuneration for employees,” added Sandra Lund, director of corporate services, referring to the travel and time claims.
Where councillors struggled with is the matter of committee meetings and even sub-committees. If there is a sub-committee that a councillor sits on, their work should be considered voluntary, suggests Coun. Tim Falkiner.
But the question comes when doing a full day of work and planning for events like the Day in the Park, said Coun. Teri Underill. She suggested some remuneration for spending that full day — in this case from the morning until the evening — for promoting events as a town representative.
Flootman said there is no reason not to re-evaluate some of the clauses, the main purpose of updating the policy is to ensure the auditor’s request for consistency is met.
Electrical Code of Conduct
A new electrical code of conduct for electric retailers or line holders is coming down the pipeline.
Town council was apprised of a recent change that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) is implementing for 2017: The new regulation will require regular audits of conduct for retailers, something expected to cost these groups an estimated $25,000 to $28,000 an audit.
What the town is working on is having an audit every three years to minimize costs. Lund said the town implements most of the codes in the conduct policy but will need to make a request to the AUC for approval.
Some of the larger commercial companies may end up having to conduct audits quarterly or even monthly. Because of these changes, if the Town of Ponoka decides to go into the retail electricity market, it won’t be able to promote it as it also owns the lines running through the community.
Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested the reason for this change is to force the hands of smaller groups, such as the Town of Ponoka, to sell their assets.
No decisions were made at the meeting as committee of the whole is a planning meeting.