County ‘recognition’ pay confirmed

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County council members are now receiving a recognition payment for completing a term in office, rather than a one-time severance.

At its regular meeting Oct. 11, council approved changes to the policy and an expenditure of unbudgeted funds of $57,400, recommended by administration.

Funds will be budgeted for subsequent election years at an estimated cost of $43,200, says a report from Heather Nanninga, director of corporate services.

We have some councillors who did not receive the payment at the end of the last term [in October 2013],” she says.

The existing policy was last updated in 2013 and was intended to address severance packages for council members not returning to municipal office, Nanninga says in a report to council

At the Sept. 25 meeting, administration was directed to bring back a revision to the policy which would allow the severance payment to be paid out at the end of each elected term, regardless of whether or not the affected councillor returns to office,” she says.

Rather than a severance, council changed the name to recognition package, proposed by Nanninga.

It’s not a severance arrangement, because people are not necessarily leaving council,” she says.

One longtime councillor opposed the name change.

I like severance better than recognition,” says Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx, serving on council for 19 years.

We don’t need recognition.”

But two others clarified the reason.

It’s not severance,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

It’s a recognition for service,” says Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Ron Matula, who has served on council after winning a byelection in October 2015.

The policy provides guidelines for administration and council with respect to recognition packages for councillors at the conclusion of their elected terms.

Big Lakes County recognizes the value of the time and commitment dedicated to municipal office by its elected officials,” the policy statement reads.

Packages are calculated based on a flat rate of $100 per month.

A council member who chooses not to run the in next election, is defeated or resigns mid-term shall be eligible for the recognition package.

However, a council member may opt out of the program, and must provide written notice to the director of corporate services within 30 days of taking office.

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