Saturday August 23, 2014





Singh, Bepple top council travel list

'I would happily defend my travel to anybody'

Coun. Nancy Bepple is the City councillor who has done the most travelling on the taxpayers' dime in the first nine months of this year.

There's likely to be little more added to the tally in the remaining months, as the typical civic conferences are wrapped up for 2012.

If you remove the trips required for Bepple's committee representation with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, then she's not the top spender.

For council travel alone, Coun. Arjun Singh heads the list.

Several years ago, council agreed to a travel cap of $5,000 per year. The amount didn't include international travel, and councillors were able to exceed their allocation with permission.

Singh's spending so far this year is $4,696. That got him to three meetings: the FCM in Saskatoon, Union of B.C. Municipalities in Victoria and Local Government Leadership Academy in Richmond.

The academy was a one-time session for new representatives following the 2011 municipal election. While Singh was elected in 2005 for one term, he said Wednesday he wanted to get some more orientation about the job as he'd been off for three years.

Council newbies Nelly Dever, Ken Christian and Donovan Cavers also went to the LGLA session.

As for his overall spending, Singh felt it was money well invested.

"I would happily defend my travel to anybody. What I did was three conferences very important to network and learn and to do some lobbying work," he said.

The FCM conference provides an opportunity for learning about grant programs and to let those attending know what Kamloops is working on, he said. He also lobbied to get Bepple elected to the FCM board, but the effort fell a few votes short this year.

The UBCM involves information sessions but also meetings with ministers, which Singh said has produced results.

"I could point to fruit around hospital improvements and greater scrutiny of the Ajax proposal," he said.

Singh said the $5,000 limit is a reasonable figure.

"I think it's important for us to be disciplined," he said.

What's missing from the council travel numbers is the fact that some representatives still attend FCM or UBCM but they do so at the expense of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District instead of City taxpayers.

So while Singh is the only City councillor who counts the cost of the FCM trip to Saskatoon in his municipal expenses, he did have colleagues there with him as well.

At the other end of the spending spectrum, Coun. Pat Wallace did no travelling on the City's ticket this year.

It came down to timing and just didn't work out, she said.

"Next year, I'll go to UBCM and FCM," said Wallace. "I believe in the organizations and I believe travel is good. I've done my share over the years."

City council's travel from January to September:

* Coun. Arjun Singh, $4,695

* Coun. Ken Christian, $4152

* Mayor Peter Milobar, $3,809 travel and $1,663 as a council representative (B.C. Mayors meetings) for a total of $5,473.

* Coun. Nancy Bepple, $3,231 travel and $3,423 as a council representative on Federation of Canadian Municipalities committees (travel required to Kitchener, Ont., and Laval, Que.) for a total of $6,654.

* Coun. Donovan Cavers, $2,405

* Coun. Marg Spina, $2,329 travel and $1,090 as council representative on the Southern Interior Local Government Association in Revelstoke, for total of $3,419.

* Coun. Tina Lange, $2,190

* Coun. Nelly Dever, $1,087

* Coun. Pat Wallace, $0


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