Staff and Board Expenses Down $34,000 at TNRD in 2021 | infonews


14 June 2022 – 6:30 pm

The Thompson Nicola Regional District elected board and staff spent $34,161 less on expenses like hotel stays, travel and meals last year compared to the previous year.

In 2021, regional district staff spent $109,099 on taxpayers, down from $131,049 in 2020. Trustees spent even less at $73,395 last year, down from $85,706, according to an annual financial report presented at the June 16 board meeting.

The regional district has revised several financial policies following an expense scandal that prompted a forensic audit and fraud investigation surrounding its former top employee.

Although no criminal charges were laid as part of the RCMP investigation, BDO Canada recommended that the Regional District improve its oversight and accountability measures when billing taxpayers.

READ MORE: Over $12,000 in home internet, cell phone bills paid by TNRD taxpayers

Since then, the regional district has revised its regulations regarding staff and trustee expenses, added protections for whistleblowers and reformed its audit committee.

Regional District staff can bill ratepayers for government-related hospitality bills, such as hotel stays and meals, which largely accounts for the $182,594 billed to the public. However, the forensic audit commissioned by the regional district last year found an “inappropriate spending culture” and recommended that it update several internal regulations and policies.

Expenses for top regional district employees range from under $100 to over $4,000.

In 2020, some expenses reached $5,000, with one staff member spending $11,254.

There are approximately 40 Regional District staff earning $75,000 named in the expense report.

READ MORE: TNRD president ‘will not apologize’ for withholding whistleblower letter

There are 33 elected directors named in the expense report, including the six alternate directors.

These expenses range from under $100 to over $10,000 for the year. In addition to meals and hotel stays, trustees can also deduct fuel expenses that are often claimed by those who regularly travel to Kamloops for regional district meetings.

The biggest claim for reimbursement went to board chairman Ken Gillis with $11,426, followed by Stephen Quinn with $9,080.

The six alternate directors claimed no expenses, while some permanent directors, such as Dieter Dudy, Arjun Singh and Kathy Sinclair, claimed less than $20.

While the report details spending for the entire year, the regional district now publishes quarterly spending reports on its website.

READ MORE: Forensic audit reveals ‘culture of bullying’ at TNRD

The directors claimed nearly $26,000 from taxpayers from January to the end of March, while the nine key executives claimed less than $4,000.

Quarterly reports detailing spending and checks to vendors, along with an ongoing bulletin of updated regional district oversight policies, have been publicly released in an effort to regain taxpayer confidence since the spending scandal broke l ‘last year.

Much of the scandal was linked to his former senior employee Sukh Gill, who mysteriously left the regional district in February 2020.

After he left, more of his spending habits became public knowledge, including lavish gifts for staff and expensive dinners paid for by Regional District taxpayers.

Auditors found that Gill directed thousands of dollars in Regional District business to friends, personally benefited from tens of thousands of dollars in discretionary and improper spending, and supervised or directed $200,000 in undetailed spending. He also used labor and materials from the Regional District and its contractors to work on his house.

His 20-month severance package ended in the fall of 2021, but he was still one of the highest earners in the Regional District, earning nearly $163,000.

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