Regional District of Central Kootenay directors can’t agree whether they should be paid for all meetings that require in-person attendance.
The topic was brought up this month while the board was going over its 2024 commitments and schedule, one of which is a new requirement under the Emergency Services Act that will require all board members to attend a three-hour workshop at the end of January.
When the motion was introduced, Area C director Kelly Vandenberghe asked that it be amended to include stipends, as he argued workshops aren’t part of the job description.
“Workshops are additional to the work that we do in terms of stipend because it is additional work. It’s important work, but workshops just occur when necessary. So it’s a time commitment and I’d like it to include expenses.”
Director Maria McFaddin of Castlegar argued Vandenberghe’s point that workshops are outside the director’s job description, saying that it’s a part of the work directors are already paid with their allowance to do.
“I don’t understand how the workshops aren’t a part of our job,” she said. “ I think that they are a part of our job. I think that’s part of the work we do and whatever it encompasses, that’s what it is. We get paid an allowance to do that work. I actually think that that’s a big part of what we do and why we’re elected to sit around these tables.”
The next argument came from Area H director Walter Popoff, whose main concern with the lack of stipends for in-person commitments was for his fellow directors with day jobs and who can’t afford to lose the day of income.
“My concern is there are directors here that have full-time jobs, and they have to take time off for the job, and you don’t just take time off for two or three hours. You have to prepare for that workshop. You have to come attend the workshop and a lot of employers will not give them time off with pay. So not having stipends would actually put them in a not very good financial position.”
Area I director Andy Davidoff also disagreed with Vandenberghe’s amended motion but added that the RDCK should insist all meetings and workshops are offered both remotely and in person, to allow directors with health issues or other barriers that prevent them from attending in person.
“I’m strongly opposed to stipend and expenses for this workshop and other workshops,” he said. “As regional district directors, we are fairly compensated and we don’t need to incur hotel expenses and drive hundreds of kilometers to a couple of hour meetings if we have the remote option. It’s a huge cost saving for ratepayers. You don’t have to drive on dangerous roads to come to a meeting if we participate remotely.”
Also against the stipend amendment was Nelson’s director, Keith Page, Area A director Garry Jackman, and Salmo director Diana Lockwood along with Davidoff and McFaddin.
The amended motion to include stipends for the workshop in January passed; however, directors who do not want to charge stipends are not required to.