Red Deer County releases council expense report

Red Deer County has issued its first annual report on council expenses since a new policy designed to promote transparency was adopted a year ago.

Red Deer County has issued its first annual report on council expenses since a new policy designed to promote transparency was adopted a year ago.

Council passed a new remuneration policy in September 2010 that kicked in following the October municipal election. As part of the policy, council’s pay, expense claims and meeting attendance are compiled and made public each quarter. The information is posted on the county’s website and published in the County News.

The annual report shows that Mayor Jim Wood was paid an honourarium of $82,447 over the past year and was reimbursed $15,320 for mileage. Conferences, per diems and expenses bring his annual compensation to $106,988.

Per diems are $105 per half day, which is up to four hours, and $210 for a full day. Mileage is based on the provincial government rate of 51.5 cents per kilometre.

Councillors each earned $57,866 in honoraria. When conference, per diems, mileage and expenses are totalled, the top earner was Dave Hoar at $69,889. Other councillors’ total compensation: Penny Archibald ($68,528), Don Nesbitt ($67,567), Richard Lorenz ($65,856), George Gehrke ($64,797), and Philip Massier ($62,945).

As part of the new policy, $50,000 was budgeted for council’s participation in conferences, seminars and professional development with each council member allotted up to $6,000.

However, in the past year the mayor and three councillors passed the $6,000 mark, although the total expenditures were below the $50,000 budget. Wood was at $8,828, Dave Hoar at $8,007, Penny Archibald at $7,683, and Don Nesbitt at $6,213.

Council voted unanimously to use the unallotted portion of the budget to cover council expenses over the $6,000 limit.

Wood said the policy was introduced because council did not want to set its own pay. Under the new rules, the remuneration policy will be reviewed every three years by an independent committee of members of the public, who will also set the rates for the next three years.

“Every councillor’s pay sheet is actually online all the time so people can see how council is spending and the meetings they attend and the money that is spent. So we’re very, very open.”

Wood said he has had no comments from the public on council’s pay since the policy was brought in.

The county also logs attendance at the various scheduled meetings council faces. Wood had a perfect record, making all 67 of his scheduled meetings. Councillors also had good records ranging from 83.6 per cent to 97 per cent.

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