Municipal leaders push for early dismissal from board meetings

Some politicians from Summerland, Penticton think time better spent not sitting through portions of meetings during which they don't vote

Andrew Jakubeit

Andrew Jakubeit

Some municipal representatives on the regional district board think their time could be better spent not sitting through stretches of meetings during which they don’t have a vote on anything.

The business of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board is split two ways: rural matters, on which only directors from the eight electoral areas can vote; and corporate issues, on which the rural directors and their 10 colleagues from member municipalities all vote.

Rural issues usually take up the first half of board meetings, which are held twice a month and last about two hours, followed by corporate business. All 18 directors also sit on five standing committees that meet prior to the board meetings.

That legislative structure was up for review at a committee meeting last week, and while most directors agreed the system is working, some think the board meetings should be rejigged so rural matters are dealt with last and municipal directors, if they want, can leave when their votes are done.

“I think that would be a lot more suitable for some of us who have to sit through two hours of debate… (to get to) five minutes of the last corporate votes we’re interested in,” said Andrew Jakubeit, a Penticton city councillor and RDOS director.

Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino agreed.

“We’re all living very, very busy lives. Many of us are doing three, four jobs,” she said. “To be honest with you, I could really use the hour and a half for other work.”

But Garry Litke, another Penticton city councillor and RDOS director, noted rural matters in surrounding areas like Naramata or the West Bench often impact his city, even though he doesn’t get to vote on them.

“I think municipal directors should be sitting here through that debate just because it helps provide that entire environmental scan,” he said.

Following 45 minutes of discussion, a motion to leave the legislative structure unchanged was defeated by a 9-8 vote. RDOS staff will now investigate the possibility of restructuring board meeting agendas.

Directors then gave preliminary approval to bylaw tweaks that cover their pay and expenses, including a change that will provide for pay at a reduced rate for attending meetings via teleconference.

The scale in place now pays directors $142 per board meeting and $47 per same-day committee meeting, but total pay for meeting days is capped at $284.

Last Thursday, five committee meetings were scheduled between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and the board meeting was scheduled from 1-3 p.m.

Meeting money is paid out on top of a regular monthly honorarium of $317 for municipal directors and $1,095 for rural directors. All remuneration and expense amounts are adjusted annually for cost of living increases.

In 2011, the last year for which data is available, total compensation for the board’s salaries and expenses hit $449,559.

The board also budgeted $16,968 this year for meeting-day lunches, condiments and supplies.