Are we getting our money’s worth from town council?

If it is not my right as a taxpayer to question the mayor’s spending then whose right is it?

Dear Editor:

I went to the council meeting on June 22 to enquire about how our elected officials were reimbursed for their time on our behalf so that I could form an opinion as to whether such compensation was reasonable. I was informed by the mayor that it was not my position to make such a judgment. If it is not my right as a taxpayer to question the mayor’s spending then whose right is it?

Specifically, my concern was that after perusing the last year’s financial report it appeared to me that particularly our mayor’s salary had ballooned an additional $1,000 per month over that of the year previously, which salary at that time appeared to be excessive for a town of our size. At that time, in questioning mayors of surrounding towns, I found that our mayor was receiving in compensation approximately twice that of mayors of other communities much larger than ours. Please note that for our past year our mayor’s salary including benefits was over $66,000, but not including travel, meals or hotel accommodations. I questioned where in the financial statements one could identify such councillors’ costs. I was informed by the mayor that they were in various different departments. My question is why are they so distributed?

I was informed in a rather condescending manner by the mayor that business is done much different now than 12 years ago. To that I can attest.

When questioned about the necessity of taking the entire council to Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conventions, it sounded like all of the good things achieved by the FCM could not have been achieved without the presence of our council. The truth is our council had little if anything to do with any of these decisions. Possibly the mayor’s verbiage was intended to justify the expense. I, for one, would like to have a full accounting of the costs of the Whistler, B.C. trip last year and of the Toronto, Ont. trip this year where six members of the administration plus two wives participated. Coun. Wayne Clark said his wife went along and he could provide a receipt for her trip. I would guess that with wives going along it would not be considered purely a business trip.

One thing that struck me through the talk by the mayor is the number of times the small word “I” or the term “I decided” appeared in the diatribe. Could this be an indication of how things are done in our council? Should we be concerned?

I wait patiently for the full public disclosure of the costs of the trips described above and a report on the direct benefits received by our community as a result of those expenditures.

Earl D. Giebelhaus

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