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Council expenses climb

Penticton council expenses for 2013 were nearly double what was spent by council members the year before.

In 2012, those expenses came in at $18,369, compared to $32,729 in 2013, according to information in the financial statement for 2013.

Councillor Helena Konanz, who had the second highest expenses at $6,681.79, said much of it was due to convention attendance. 

"We were really encouraged by the community to support the hospital expansion at the Union of BC Municipalities, UBCM, convention, and that is one of the reasons why I went," she said. "The other reason was four or five council members attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Vancouver last year, as well."

Mayor Garry Litke's total expenses were the highest at $8,167.04. Coming in third, behind Konanz, was Councillor Wes Hopkin at $5,345.93.

Councillor John Vassilkai had the lowest, at zero expenses.

In total, six council members and city manager Annette Antoniak attended the UBCM in September in Vancouver.

The convention gives a voice to local government in BC. In addition to Penticton's focus on the hospital, they were also bringing forward a measure on speed calming measures in school zones.

Konanz was also focused on boosting skills training in Penticton.

The total amount spent by Penticton for the September convention totalled $15,450, which was more than Kelowna at $11,000+. Vernon's bill came to slightly more than $7,400.

Penticton council came under some criticism at the time, in large part, because they stayed at the expensive Pan Pacific Hotel.

"We didn't know how much hotel rooms were until after the reservations were made and locked in," said Konanz. "It was the hotel recommended by UBCM to stay at, and it was full."

Konanz said she doesn't feel good about spending that much, and it won't happen again.

She believes council will communicate more about who goes to what.

She also plans to put forward a notice of motion at an upcoming meeting, where council's expenses must be posted quarterly on the City's website, so the public can find out what they did at any convention.

The 2013 financial statement also provided information on remuneration for city employees.

Antoniak had the highest salary in 2013, at $167,719.62. Staff earning more than $100,000, including Antoniak, fire department employees and those in planning and financial capacities, totals 14.

The total remuneration for councillors was $168,487.43. Total remuneration for employees was $18,159,885.60.

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