Big Valley council doesn’t agree on some expense claim rules

Big Valley Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator - July 27, 2018 ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Big Valley council didn’t agree on how some expense claims should be handled, but their revised procedural bylaw passed second and third readings by 2 – 1 votes. 

The votes were held during the Dec. 30 regular meeting of council held via Zoom to meet pandemic rules.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell presented councillors with the procedural bylaw, which essentially lays out how councillors will conduct their business. 

Mayor Clark German noted the bylaw already passed first reading.

Coun. Harry Nibourg stated he felt councillor expense forms, which they submit for out-of-pocket expenses related to council business, should be handled differently than what was in the proposed bylaw. 

He noted the forms remained the same as in the past and stated they should be changed to avoid honest mistakes or someone intentionally trying to defraud the village.

At a previous council meeting, village staff reported that Coun. Nibourg had been paid twice for certain committee meetings he attended, which is against the rules. 

It turned out the committee he’d been attending directly paid members for their time, while the village also paid Nibourg and while reporting on this Schell stated she wasn’t aware Nibourg had been getting paid directly from the committee. 

Nibourg stated at that time he wasn’t aware of it either, and that it was a mistake. He pledged to repay any money to which he wasn’t entitled.

Nibourg suggested adding a statement to the effect that any councillor meeting attendance will be emailed to the village CAO as confirmation, which could then be easily reviewed by the village staff.

Schell noted that in the past village staff have requested that all meeting minutes be forwarded to them, but that was never done.

Both Mayor German and Coun. Art Tizzard stated they liked the way the existing sheet looked.

German went further by saying he still felt councillors themselves bear the responsibility for reporting what they’re doing and more emails being sent wasn’t necessary.

Nibourg stated that not all elected officials are honest.

Nibourg stated again he felt more checks and balances should be included to prevent the mistake that happened to him from happening to others. 

“I fell through the cracks,” said Nibourg.

Schell responded that village staff were not aware the committee in question paid its members directly and if councillors don’t tell the staff, then there is no way for them to know.

Nibourg stated he was pretty sure someone at the village office told him some committees pay their members directly, to which Schell answered, “It wasn’t me.”

Coun. Tizzard reiterated that he didn’t feel any such checks or balances were needed.

Coun. Nibourg also suggested the procedural bylaw should accommodate someone other than the mayor chairing meetings. Schell responded a point in the bylaw does note the deputy mayor can chair meetings if needed.

Mayor German stated such an addition has to meet the requirements of the Municipal Government Act, and if the bylaw states the chair can delegate such duties to someone else, then that should be fine. 

Schell agreed.

Second and third reading of the procedural bylaw was passed by 2 to 1 votes; Nibourg opposed both times.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.