Do you want to see council’s compensation forms posted on the website?
Debate at Elk Point Council’s November 27th meeting centered on the extent to which councilors feel comfortable sharing their compensation amounts with the public. Following through on her campaign promise of open communication, Councillor Terri Hampson offered to post her monthly timesheets for attending town events and meetings on Facebook. However, she wondered if providing the detailed information was, “starting an issue.” Her concern is whether it is appropriate to post her own information if all the other councillors are not posting theirs.
She said, “There is nothing that I put on my Facebook page that isn’t shared, that the media can’t access, so to me this is no different, but I also want to be respectful of the rest of us. I believe in my heart that I should be able to post it on my personal Facebook page. I’m asking for that permission.”
The questions of “How much information is too much?” and “How will the information be used?” arose.
Councillor Debra McQuinn said, “I understand the idea of transparency, but think full transparency would open floodgates. The questions will arise: ‘Where is everybody else’s? Why aren’t they posting them?’” She pointed out that the general information is already available to the public. An allowance is set for each councillor, and the actual amount claimed is provided in the annual budget/expenditures report.
The first issue to address before anything would be posted on the town website, is “Do residents want the information?” As Councillor Sherry Bower-Gagne said, “I think when we are elected to a position of trust, the public trusts us.” Mayor Lorne Young gave his position: “I am not against transparency, but I struggle with publicizing the non-paid part. We would also have to change the format of the timesheets, as the current format is not conducive to a website.”
The issue was taken as information for now, but council agreed to conduct a poll. So, the public is directed to the town’s website or its Facebook page to respond to the question, “Do you want to see council’s compensation forms posted on the website?” The question will be open for the month of December.