Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Abusing the taxpayer

This is a very old-fashioned, unaccountable and expensive way of doing things

Abusing the taxpayer

Along with big spenders at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, life is good on expense accounts and Penticton city council takes advantage of it.

Eight rural directors on the RDOS attended the annual 2016 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Now add all four of Penticton’s RDOS directors plus the remaining three councillors to make 15.

Now include other members of the RDOS: Summerland; Princeton; Oliver and Osoyoos. (I have not gathered stats on these.)

In 2016, municipal elected officials proposed a broad variety of resolutions and voted on a number of concerns in a dialogue between the province and municipalities including downloading of DNA analysis costs onto local governments; development of a regulatory regime for marijuana; taxation of short-term rental accommodations; and homelessness and affordable housing.

Surely most of these could have been debated via video conferencing in an open council meeting and voted on electronically, giving each council member a vote in the matter.

This past year many resolutions were first submitted to the five area associations prior to being submitted to UBCM so a consensus was arrived at before the resolutions were submitted to UBCM.

Penticton belongs to SILGA which is one of the five local area associations which cover the province.

Three mornings at UBCM are dedicated to resolutions and policy debate on prioritized issues and resolutions. Members vote electronically on a huge array of issues that do not require their personal attendance.

In most cases we don’t know how our elected officials vote on the issues or the reason they are attending. Would we elect them if we knew how they voted? Before attending the last convention Councillor Tarik Sayeed gave Site C Dam and plastic bags as the reason he was attending.

This is a very old-fashioned, unaccountable and expensive way of doing things.

It used to be that the ‘stipend’ and it was intended as a stipend, not a salary; was relatively insignificant so the proffered trips to conferences etc. was seen as partial compensation for time spent. Now however with mileage, committee stipends, meeting compensation the “trips” should no longer be considered as a gimme. Councillors should be voting on behalf of a consensus of council on the issues. There should be regulations in place that require justification to attend and rigorous reporting out of results attained.

Our tax dollars should not be paying for these abuses.

Elvena Slump

Penticton