Central Okanagan  

Chiefs top mayors' salaries

The chiefs of three Okanagan Indian Bands pull in a larger yearly salary than mayors of municipalities in the same region.

In at least one instance, the salary is larger than that of the provincial MLA serving the same area.

Yearly remuneration given to chief and council must now be made available to all band members through the First Nations Financial Transparency Act which came into being last year.

Financial information is available for the Okanagan Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band. Others are expected to follow in the coming days and weeks.

Because Westbank First Nation is self-governing, its information has always been available.

All remuneration is tax free.

Financial figures show Osoyoos Indian Band Chief, Clarance Louie, is the highest paid chief in the Okanagan with a yearly salary of $146,369. He claimed expenses of $4,954.

Louie presides over a band membership of 328, meaning he receives $446 for every man, woman and child.

The five councillors receiver remuneration ranging between $17,053 and $97,428.

In all, chief and council were paid $472,062.

In comparison, Osoyoos Mayor, Stu Wells received a paycheque of $31,900 while the four councillors were paid between $16,800 and $20,000.

The total remuneration was $117,563.

Wells, who presides over a town population of 5,223 was paid $6.10 per man, woman and child.

The scenario is similar is the Central Okanagan where, in 2008, WFN Chief, Robert Louie was awarded a salary of $100,000 with each of his four councillors receiving $60,000.

Those salaries have moved up slightly over the past six years with increases tied to the rise in the Consumer Price Index.

Chief and council also receive a $225/month cell phone and wireless handheld device cost and a $350/month gasoline and vehicle depreciation stipend for local travel.

With a band membership of 417, Chief Louie is paid $239 per population.

West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater, who took home $68,018 last year, received $2.13 per person.

West Kelowna's six councillors earned just under $21,500 each.

The total remuneration was $192,207.

In comparison, Kelowna Mayor, Walter Gray pulled down $89,457 with councillors earning $31,310.

Kelowna taxpayers bill for mayor and council was $231,303 with the mayor himself being paid $0.76 per person.

In the North Okanagan, Okanagan Indian Band Chief, Byron Louis received a stipend of $44,034 with each of 10 councillors receiving between $30,000 and $32,000.

In all, OIB council were paid $355,152.

Chief Louis was paid slightly more than $52 a person based on a band population of 840.

Vernon Mayor, Rob Sawatzky, is the only Okanagan mayor paid more than a band chief in his immediate vicinity.

Sawatzky was paid $68,018 in 2013 or $1.75 per man, woman and child or $23,984 more than Louis.

Councillors were paid between $20,474 and $26,162.

Total payment from taxpayers was nearly $204,000.

The Penticton Indian Band is expected to release its figures in about a month to coincide with its annual report.

Other bands in the region have not yet released their figures.

What chiefs are getting paid in the Okanagan pales in comparison with the $1M a chief is earning on the lower mainland.

The remuneration and expenses report as well as audited consolidated financial statements are required now to be shared with band members and ;placed on a website as per new new federal legislation.

Those figures are also then posted on the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website.


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