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Red Deer city council considers spending caps for council appreciation/recognition gifts

Gold rings can now cost upwards of $2,400, council was told
Red Deer city council will look at standardizing and capping the spending for council recognition gifts. (Advocate file photo).

The days of getting a gold ring for sitting on Red Deer city council may be over.

Council discussed on Tuesday a new “recognition policy” for councillors, who have traditionally received a gift upon taking on the job (after winning the election), and another gift at the end of their time on council.

“The purpose of the Council Recognition Policy is to formally recognize (councillors) for their service at the time of their election and upon their departure from council,” stated a report to council.

City councillors were asked to consider standardizing these tangible forms of recognition.

Gold rings, which were once given to incoming councillors, can cost up to $2,400, according to the report. In an effort to cap rising costs, a gold pin with the City of Red Deer’s logo was suggested as the gift, instead of a ring. It would have a top value of $500.

Since money would be saved on in-coming councillor gifts, the report suggested raising the value of out-going councillor gifts to $500 from a previous $250.

“The overall net effect of this change would be a reduced financial cost to The City of Red Deer,” said Colin Connon, council’s research, policy and council administration specialist.

Councillor Lawrence Lee liked the idea of having a standardized gift, like a pin, for male and female councillors that would immediately connect them to the City for members of the public. Lee noted many other municipalities have gone with a versatile pin.

But Coun. Vesna Higham suggested some choice might be appreciated, as some elected representatives might find a necklace to be “more meaningful” than a pin, if the cost was the same.

She also questioned the point of doubling the cap on gifts for out-going councillors, saying there were no complaints about the previous $250 limit.

In the end, the matter was tabled for 30 days to allow administration to do some costing as to the value of a necklace, versus a pin.

This new proposed policy wouldn’t apply to any sitting members of council, but only those who are elected in the next election. Connon’s report noted that council had not reconsidered its council recognition policy for a decade so it was time to consider revisions.