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Catch-22 expense claim rejected

Director Jim Abram is out $70 after Strathcona Regional District directors were forced to deny Abram reimbursement for expenses he incurred on government-related business.

Abram was looking for compensation related to money he spent to attend a North Island-Sunshine Coast Regional Advisory Committee meeting on May 9 in Courtenay.

Abram’s attendance at the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s committee meeting is mandatory yet directors’ hands were tied when it came down to paying Abram to attend the meeting.

“The committee appointment is an appointment the chair of the board accepts every year but the board did not specifically appoint me to the position,” Abram said.

Wherein lies the problem. Russ Hotsenpiller, chief administrative officer of the regional district, said the Strathcona Regional District’s compensation bylaw is very specific about what type of positions are eligible for reimbursement.

“The bylaw currently provides that travel remuneration is only available to directors for compensable meetings, those being meetings of organizations to which the director has been appointed by resolution of the regional board,” Hotsenpiller wrote in a staff report.

Abram was, however, allowed under the bylaw to submit a claim for the meeting, which he did, to be considered by the board. But directors, at Thursday’s board meeting, turned down Abram’s expense claim because of the bylaw.

Abram said he understood why directors made the decision they did but suggested the bylaw needs to be given a second look.

“The bylaw didn’t clearly state that it should be paid, so it wasn’t paid and that’s fine,” Abram said. “The bylaw just needs to be changed.”

The other directors seem to agree.

The board has asked regional district staff for a report outlining options for amending the board’s remuneration bylaw to deal with meetings that are not authorized by the board.

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