Katchur Accepting Per Diems May Be Good Governance, Says Expert
Speaking to Over Easy, Please by telephone on Wednesday, municipal governance consultant and noted author George Cuff indicated that it is common for mayors and councilors appointed to regional boards to receive payments from those boards, over and above whatever salaries they may be paid for their roles within their own city. Notably, Cuff himself served four terms as a Mayor — in his case in Spruce Grove, commencing in 1977.
â€śNormally, because these are outside organizations, they establish their own policy with regard to payment of honoraria on a per meeting basis,â€ť said Cuff.
â€śSo, whatever members of council are appointed to external bodies, they generally speaking are entitled to receive whatever the body is providing… provided that the Councilâ€™s own policies donâ€™t prohibit you from receiving any external honoraria,â€ť he continued.
Fort Saskatchewan has no such prohibition on any council member accepting funds from external bodies. Over Easy, Pleaseâ€™s research has shown that although the City of St. Albert requires municipal councillors to reimburse the City in the amount of any honoraria received for sitting on external boards, other municipalities do not. Akin to Fort Saskatchewan, a lack of prohibition also appears to exist in Strathcona County and Spruce Grove, for example.
This appears consistent with Cuffâ€™s perspective on regional bodies like the Capital Region Board.
â€śWith regional bodies, like the Capital Region Board, my guess would be that most mayors or councillors in attendance on that would be receiving an additional honoraria for being in attendance,â€ť said Cuff.
Much of the ongoing debate about Mayor Katchurâ€™s acceptance of per diems from the Capital Region Board has focused on the supposed practice of former Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Jim Sheasgreen. Although unconfirmed by Over Easy, Please, other sources have indicated that Sheasgreen apparently did not accept honoraria for his role on the Capital Region Board. But, rather than being a laudable practice, Cuff indicates such may create a â€śbad precedent.â€ť
â€śThe disadvantage is having a mayor who is well enough heeled or has other sources of income, that they decide they donâ€™t need to take honoraria from outside bodies,â€ť said Cuff. â€śThe only problem with that — I wish they would take it if thatâ€™s the policy, and donate it to a local group, quietly — because otherwise it sets a bad precedent for whoever follows,â€ť he continued.
â€śSo if youâ€™re independently wealthy, and you get an honoraria to be the mayor and you decide not to take it — I think thatâ€™s your decision — but youâ€™re disadvantaging the next mayor who is not independently wealthy,â€ť he concluded.