City Council will increase allowances for members and spouses

The city council approved a motion on Monday to increase allowances for city council members and their spouses, covering a variety of costs related to events council members are expected to attend.

There are costs related to the council’s remuneration, including hiring a consultant to review it, that the Council Contingency Account will be used to offset, as they were not included in the 2015 operating budget. The addition of the Medical Services Plan for members will be $940.50 per month, and $3,762 for the remainder of 2015. As well, spouse involvement at council functions is predicted to be $3,500 expense per year.

The Council Contingency Account’s starting balance is $13,628 – after these changes take place, the remaining balance will be $6,366.

Some of the other coverage this new allowance provides includes $500 allocated to a council member and spouse to offset the costs of tickets for the pair, and $200 per day on food, save for meals provided at a conference.

According to the request for decision, “remuneration has increased by a total of 4% over the last five years and does not reflect Fort St. John City Council’s workload.”

“Council met with staff to discuss their existing remuneration, travel reimbursement and spousal involvement at functions,” the request reads. “Council has seen a steady increase in the number of invitations to participate in events, conferences and functions which creates a challenge to balance work/council/family life.”

Many of the exceptions to this allowed spending will remain the same, however. Laundry services, tobacco, compensation for damaged/lost property, salon services, and rental of luxury/sports cars are some of the items the allowance doesn’t cover.

Alcohol is also excluded from the costs in most cases, but a council member and spouse can purchase up to $100 worth of alcoholic beverages if two or more council members are in attendance at a dinner or evening social function when the City has invited dignitaries to attend.