Carol Day wants more details made public about councillors’ expenses, but not everyone agrees
GRAEME WOOD | RICHMOND NEWS
JUNE 15, 2016 11:42 AM
Coun. Carol Day
Veteran city councillor Bill McNulty had choice words for first-term colleague Carol Day, after she asked to have council’s personal expenses detailed publicly to improve transparency.
“I resent the fact that Coun. Day thinks she’d like to be the hero to put this out,” said McNulty, who actually went on to support Day’s motion despite stating, “The way we report (expenses) is fine.
McNulty said each councillor should be responsible for explaining his nor her own expenses to the public, when asked.
Day had asked council to amend an annual report on councillor salaries, benefits and expenses. She wanted detailed expenses, not a lump sum, as reported by staff.
Day said doing so is part of council “fulfilling our fiduciary responsibility.
“The public would be very interested in knowing that these expenses, especially for those of us who are new on council, are for attending professional training,” said Day.
In her amendment, seconded by Coun. Chak Au, Day said medical benefits should be left out of a detailed report, as such items are private.
“I think we should put the benefits down, as well. If we’re going to be transparent —between Couns. Day and Au — then let’s be transparent,” said McNulty, who went on to state that he’s always defended any of his own expenses.
During the discussion period McNulty, a retired school counsellor, went into further details by noting he had given up his own holiday time to travel to Japan two years in a row to procure the tall ship Kaiwo Maru, for next year’s Canada 150 celebrations next May.
“I don’t think our expenses have ever been hidden,” said McNulty, who had the most expenses in 2015 because of the Japan trip.
The trip was not costed in details publicly, but the Richmond News learned it cost taxpayers just over $13,000 to send McNulty to Japan, including an unscheduled trip to Okinawa, which, according to McNulty, was to research pool facilities.
This year’s trip, with a staff member, cost $30,000.
The report showed Day had $5,024 in expenses, the third most after McNulty and Coun. Alexa Loo ($5,985).
Coun. Derek Dang had the lowest 2015 expenses, at $141.
Couns. Dang and Harold Steves and Mayor Malcolm Brodie voted against the motion. After the meeting, Steves said, via Twitter, there was little point to providing details on such little money (he had about $2,000 in expenses).
“Just ask,” said Steves.
The report showed Brodie’s annual salary is now $127,728 while each councillor earns $58,073 per year (2015 had one extra pay period).
In 2015, former Couns. Evelina Halsey-Brandt and Linda Barnes were paid $62,579 and $68,953, respectively, for a retirement allowance.
My first full year as a full time Richmond City Councillor has been a busy one and I have attended many Conferences and Seminars the professional training I completed has helped me be a better councillor. Richmond is facing so many challenges, a Jet Fuel Tank farm and Marine terminal that threaten the Fraser river and the mega bridge that will threaten our air quality, traffic congestion on hwy 99, farm land and the Fraser river. When I attend conferences I lobby for support from other mayors and councillors to support our position against these Federally and Provincially driven threats.
The Port of Vancouver has purchased the Gilmore farm and controls the approval process for the VAFFC Jet Fuel project and the province controls the Massey bridge project so I talk with people and gain Intel on these issues. Attending the seminars and workshops informs me about emergency preparedness, municipal law, policing, ALR land and so much more.
I would like the people of Richmond to know about the hard work I have invested on their behalf and part of that comes from disclosing the details of the expenses I have incurred at a councillor. On Monday June 13th, 2016 I proposed a motion to change the way we report Council Remuneration by asking for the details of the individual councillors expenses to be disclosed to the public. Previously only the totals where reported out and the citizens would have to complete a Freedom of Information application to get more details, the vote was occurred and my motion passed.
Here are my expenses for 2015 they include the LMLGA, Local Municipalities of the Lower Mainland AGM in Harrison where I lobbied Port Metro Vancouver to sell the Gilmore Farm back to the farming community and was invited to a follow up lunch.
I attend the FCM, Federation of Canadian Municipalities AGM in Edmonton , where I lobbied to have our motion for the federal government to take away full control away from the ports across Canada and make them responsible to their local host communities.
The UBCM, Union of British Columbia Municipalities AGM was held in Vancouver and I attended many seminars and lobbied the other mayor and councillors to rally with the city of Richmond against the 3.5 billion dollar Massey tunnel replacement bridge so they could get their fair share of provincial transportation funding.
One of the jobs as a councillor is to attend charity and society functions and in my first year I attended many but the experience has taught me that these groups need to consider offering these functions at a reduced price for public officials. When the invitations come in this year I will ask the societies and charities for a discount because the costs add up and as a taxpayer I would like to see these expenses reduced.