Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tax $$ spent on Van. convention

by Wayne Moore - Kelowna - CASTANET Sep 18, 2013 / 9:00 am
The annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention is underway in Vancouver. The convention is an opportunity for civic leaders and top bureaucrats to get together in one place to exchange ideas, attend seminars and lectures and get their wish lists before provincial ministers. It is also where municipalities have the opportunity to put forth and vote on resolutions it believes the Province should give some attention to. This year, valley municipalities have put forth several resolutions ranging from the re-introduction of photo radar in school zones (Penticton), to a provincial bylaw regulating excessive motorcycle and boat noise (Kelowna) to an equitable cost recovery for provincially held prisoners (West Kelowna). The Okanagan's three largest municipalities (Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton) are all well represented for the week long convention at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Penticton has sent the largest delegation (7 - Mayor, five councillors and city manager) while Kelowna and Vernon each sent a five member delegation. Kelowna Mayor, Walter Gray, three councillors and the assistant city manager are attending the convention while Vernon has sent Mayor Robert Sawatzky, two councillors and two administrators.Penticton taxpayers are also picking up the largest tab of the three municipalities. Factoring in travel (air or car), accommodations and registration, Penticton is spending $15,450 on the convention. Penticton delegates have also set up meetings with five provincial ministries including health, jobs and tourism, transportation and community sport and development. Exact figures for Kelowna's delegation won't be known until all receipts are in, however, the final bill will be somewhere north of $11,000. This includes $6,186 for accommodations at the Pan Pacific Hotel ($295 a night - taxes included), approximately $3,650 for registration fees and about $1,500 in travel costs factoring in three councillor who flew and two who drove. Councillors who drove are given the option of handing in travel receipts or claiming 54¢ a kilometre. At about 800 kilometres, that would work out to approximately $432. The City of Vernon's bill will come in at more than $7,400. This includes $4,016 for accommodations and $3,400 for registration. As for transportation expenses, Vernon's delegation drove but, according to officials, some will file for expenses and some won't.

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