When the auditor submitted his report to the Strathcona Regional District Board last Spring, it showed one director billing significantly more than his colleagues.

“I received more money than other directors,” admitted Regional Director Jim Abram of Area C (Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets) at the Strahcona Regional Dirstrict’s May 25 board meeting.

Image Credit – Cover of the Strathcona Regional District 2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

A subsequent reviewing of Abram’s renumeration payments for 67 meetings during 2021 and 2022, determined that 54 of the meetings did not meet the criteria laid out in the SRD compensation bylaw.

Consequently, at the Wednesday September 22 meeting, Abram announced, “Without prejudice, I’d like to agree to pay back the amount in the report from the finance department of $8,640 for meetings that were said to not meet the criteria and I hope that this will put an end to this issue.  I will submit the cheque in full today. Sorry.”

Tally of meetings – from Auditor’s report

Mayor Andy Adams of Campbell River responded, “I want to preface this by saying that this is not personal in any way, shape or form, but more a fiduciary  responsibility. The motion will be that the CAO will be instructed that failing receipt of payment in the amount of $8,640 by September 22nd, 2023, no further monthly stipend expense or meeting pay claims be paid to director Abram until the balance has been fully repaid to the SRD finance department.”

Abram objected, “The date is unreasonable. I have to mail that cheque today. It will not go out until tomorrow, which is the 22nd and it would not be received until probably the 23rd, possibly the 24th of September and I believe the amount is incorrect, so I would have to vote against the motion, although I have already totally agreed to the concept.”

BC Ferries Meetings not deemed compensable – from Auditor’s report

Chair Brad Unger said,  “$8,640 is the correct amount if I’m not mistaken. As far as the dates and that …”

Abram agreed, “yes. You’re correct, You’re correct, I’m sorry.”

Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch said, “Mr. Chair,  the date is moot there. I think the 22nd is fine. We don’t regularly make payments till the end of the month anyways. So as Director Abram said, if the cheque is mailed, it takes a few days.  We would certainly get it before the end of the month. So I don’t think the date is an issue in this resolution.”

Regional Director Gerald Whalley objected, “Mr. Chair, in my opinion, I think this is inopportune. I believe what the directorate is doing is calling into question the integrity, the honesty of Director Abram. I think that’s out of line. Director Abram is giving his word that he’s going to pay. I think we should take that and if in the future there was some untoward thing that was to happen, we can look at this item again but, at this point in time, I think this is disrespectful.”

Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield added, “Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to put by the end of September, which is when we normally issue payments, distribute money, et cetera.”

Adams agreed, “I’m fine with that. I’m leaving it at the discretion so that our finance department and the CIO have that ability in the unforeseen circumstances that that would be required if it’s not, then it becomes mute. This is a fiduciary responsible motion and then nothing other.”

Unger said, “Okay. Thank you. So if it’s okay with a mover, then we’ll have a friendly saying September 30th.”

The following motion carried, with five Directors (Whalley, Abram, Leigh Davis and Kerr) voting in opposition:

“That the SRD CAO be instructed that failing receipt of payment in the amount of $8,640.00 by September 30, 2022, no further monthly stipend, expense or meeting pay claims be paid to Director Abram until the balance of $8,640.00 has been fully repaid to the SRD Finance Department.”

Top image credit: Regional Director Jim Abram has agreed to repay the SRD for 54 meetings deemed not worthy of compensation -Photo by PiggyBank on Unsplash