Claiming work-related expenses is par for the course for most jobs, whether the job is a truck driver, an engineer or a town councillor.
What is considerably less common is being able to get one employer to compensate for loss of one’s wages when having to go to work at a second job.
Town policy allows councillors to do just that, to claim for a loss of wages at a councillor’s outside job from missing work because of their council duties. Claims are limited to $2,800 per year. It’s a policy some on council defend as important to ensure individuals who may be able to positively contribute to town council aren’t financially discouraged from taking a run at public office.
Council expense claims filed between January 2015 and June of this year show $12,112 has been paid to three councillors for loss of wages. Three councillors and the Mayor have not made any such claims.
Considering the Town’s $54.1 million operating budget for 2017, $12,000 over two-and-a-half years is minor.
Cost isn’t the issue. Few people with two jobs are able to get one of their employers to cover wages lost because they have to go to work at their other job.
Councillors are paid to do the job. They earning a salary of $38,213, one-third of which is tax free. Anyone who runs for town council next month should know this going in and to expect schedule conflicts.
Ultimately, councillor expenses need to be put in perspective. What taxpayers really need to ask is whether they are getting good value in return.
It’s something that’s difficult to put a price tag on. It’s all in the details. Much of the $78,000 in expenses paid out since the beginning of 2015 are for attending meetings and conferences.
Look at the outcomes.
If these meetings bring back valuable new ideas or initiatives, or secure grant funding then it could be money well spent.