The Cowichan Valley Regional District Board of Directors wants a more in-depth staff report on the policy regarding director business expenses after a lengthy discussion at the July 28 board meeting.
Staff had presented an updated draft policy for the board’s consideration, but the auditor’s recommendation that directors’ business expenses be signed off by the board chair and the president’s expenses be signed off by the Vice Chairman of the Board dominated much of the discussion on the issue at the table.
Shawnigan Lake principal Sierra Acton, who is the current vice chair of the board, said she did not feel comfortable having the responsibility of approving the president’s expenses and that She had no intention of taking on this role.
She said the responsibility for approving board members’ expenses should be taken by someone outside of the board, such as CVRD’s chief executive or its finance department.
“I don’t want to do it,” Acton said.
“It’s not part of my role and never was part of my role. That doesn’t seem like a good decision to me.
Natalie Wehner, CVRD’s chief financial officer, said it was a recommendation from the district auditors that the president’s expenses be approved by the vice president and the directors’ expenses be approved by the president.
“This is a case of best practice because you don’t want subordinate positions approving expenses,” she said.
“For example, it would be like my staff approving my expenses. You wouldn’t want to be in this predicament.
Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls Superintendent Ian Morrison said that, with all due respect to the CVRD auditors, he posed this question to a number of other elected officials who responded that the idea they endorse spending by other elected officials is not a best practice and has the potential for abuse.
“I’m not talking about current board players, but it’s not a good idea for politicians to approve other politicians’ spending,” he said.
“I will support that recommendation, but I guarantee it will come back to bite us, maybe not in the short term, but it’s just not a good idea.”
The board has decided to ask staff to provide a comprehensive report on directors’ business expense policies that clearly explains what expenses are allowed and what are not.