A councillor for the Village of Big Valley will pay back just over $500 after it was found he was being paid twice for attending one set of meetings.
The decision was made at the Oct. 22 regular meeting of council.
Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell regarding Coun. Harry Nibourg being paid to attend Stettler Recreational Board meetings for the past several years by the board itself, but also being paid by the village to attend the same meetings.
“During preparation for the organizational meeting (which was also held Oct. 22) and letting the Stettler Recreational Board know that there was a councillor change for their board, it was discovered that Coun. Nibourg had been receiving payment from both the board and the village for attending meetings,” stated Schell’s memo to council.
“Payments from the village to Coun. Nibourg for Recreation Board meetings are as follows: 2018 Feb. 5, Oct. 1 and Dec. 3 $180 meetings, $105 mileage = $285, 2019 Feb. 4 and June 4 $120 meetings, $70 mileage = $190, and 2020 Jan. 20 $60 meetings, $35 mileage = $95. Total $570.”
The memo continued, “Council Remuneration Policy 05-14 section 2 states that representatives appointed by the Village of Big Valley council to act on behalf of the council as representatives or members of associations, commissions and organizations may claim mileage and appropriate meetings fees for meetings and/or workshops if they are not paid by that association and have been approved through a Village of Big Valley resolution.
“If the council member receives payment directly from the board or committee they are appointed to, that is considered their remuneration for that meeting.
Historically the village has not made a second payment to a member of council for attendance at a meeting.”
Nibourg responded by stating that the double payment was an oversight on both his part and the village administration’s and for his part it was unintentional.
“I am totally guilty of it,” said Nibourg. “I guess I should have known. I am totally paying it back.”
Schell stated she didn’t see the village administration as responsible as there was no way for the village staff to know a councillor was getting paid by an outside committee unless the councillor informs the village office.
Schell stated village staff found the double payment by accident more than anything, as Nibourg’s committee work was shifted to other councillors as a result of sanctions placed on Nibourg this past summer.
Schell also asked that all councillors inform the village office if they’re being paid directly by a committee or board.
Mayor Clark German stated he felt that when submitting expense claims, councillors alone should bear responsibility for their accuracy.
German also supported Nibourg on the issue. “I do believe you,” said German. “It was an honest oversight.”
During discussion, councillors mentioned a few different ways of ensuring double expense claims don’t slip through.
Councillors agreed they would each submit a supplemental checklist connected to their expense claims listing how much they were paid and where it came from.
Councillors also passed a motion for Nibourg to pay back the village for the $570.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter