There’s millions of reasons some people get riled this time of year – municipalities, regional districts and other public bodies are required by law to release financial statements from the year previous, which includes salaries paid to elected officials.
“There has always been people out there saying you shouldn’t do this job for the money,” says regional politician Grace McGregor. “And no you shouldn’t go into it for that. But you sure should be able to vote someone in who wants to have it as their job and put their full time into it – and still make enough money to live on.”
While $425,000 sounds steep for stipends and expenses of 13 Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) politicians, in fact, the number actually decreased by $18,000 since 2014.
Remuneration for the five electoral area directors starts at $1,074 monthly ($716 stipend, $358 expenses) and $750 for the eight municipal directors, including $250 for expenses. But the number grows exponentially with travel time allowances, cell phone and technology expenses as well as other incidentals like meals and accommodation.
The board chair is compensated $1,911 each month and the vice chair receives a $220 monthly stipend.
Another factor impacting total remuneration is the number of standing and select committees each director sits on, and if he or she chairs respective meetings. The RDKB lists 19 committees on its website for matters that cover the gamut, from boundary economics to east end sewer and environmental to protective services.
Directors are compensated $83 to attend a committee meeting and another $111 to chair it.
The highest compensation, almost $80,000, went to McGregor. But she wears two hats – one as Electoral Area C Director and the other as RDKB board chair.
Both positions are 24/7 and have her feeling at times, like she’s living out of her car.
“For electoral area directors we are only one person in a whole big area,” says McGregor. “And we handle everything. A lot of (the expenses) are for travel because you are in your car all the time,” she added. “My car is a 2014 and I have 102,000 kilometres on it – that tells you, you are on the road all the time.”
As far as stipends go, area directors don’t get enough money for what they do, McGregor continued.
“Quite frankly, it’s the very reason that we cannot get young people running for these positions, it’s full time,” she said. “And we don’t get a pension, health care benefits or anything like that. So that’s a huge thing, and when health care is your own responsibility, that’s another reason people either have to have another job at the same time or they are retired.”
McGregor acknowledges those few who try to manage double duty, meaning a day job as well as a political position.
“There’s people that try to do that, but my goodness it gives them no free time at all and we all know that time for the family is just as important as your work job – and if you can’t have that combination then there’s a problem,” she added. “But at the end of the day, the important thing is how much time you expect your elected official to put in and like any job, you want to be paid fairly. And I think that’s the bottom line.”
The second highest total remuneration was $55,000 to Area E Director Vicki Lynn Gee, followed by $50,300 to Linda Worley from Area B. Further down the list is Area A’s Ali Grieve at about $41,000.
Municipal mayors fell between the $15,000 to $22,000 range. To review the SOFI (Statement of Financial Information) visit the regional district website at rdkb.com.