City councillors may be en route to establishing personal professional development guidelines following a brief debate over attending an upcoming leadership conference.
Couns. Alan Harrison and Ken Jamieson suggested council look at developing personal growth plans, similar to those used by school district employees for professional development, following a request by Coun. Denise Reimer to attend the Local Government Leadership Academy forum, Feb. 5-7, in Vancouver. Cost is estimated at $1,500 per person.
Mayor Nancy Cooper and Coun. Chad Eliason also expressed interest in going.
“I think that we also have to watch what we’re attending,” added Cooper. “I know that we do have money to attend this, but I think if we’re looking at going to multiple conferences, I think we need to sort of pick and choose as well.
“I think we try to keep our taxes low and we’re asking people to do with less, even our staff. So, in that mind, I think we have to show leadership and we have to make some decisions as well as to what conferences we’re going to.”
In response to the mayor’s comment, city administrator Carl Bannister explained that for 2014, the city has budgeted for the mayor and council to attend the annual conventions for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Southern Interior Local Government Association and the Union of B.C. Municipalities. An additional $2,500 is budgeted for “miscellaneous,” said Bannister, explaining the $4,500 required to send the mayor and two councillors would exceed that budget.
“But that’s not to say it couldn’t come from reduced costs at FCM or UBCM later down the road,” said Bannister. “So it’s not exactly in the budget, you will have to cut from somewhere else later on.”
Coun. Debbie Cannon supported funding for the three city delegates if it could be worked out.
“A lot of us didn’t go to school to become councillors, so any extra education that we can get to help us do a better job up at this table is very beneficial to everyone,” said Cannon.
With respect to Reimer, Coun. Alan Harrison said he couldn’t support the $4,500 bill. Jamieson, on the other hand, supported Reimer’s request to join Eliason and Cooper. However, he and Harrison seemed of like mind that a future discussion is needed on professional development.
“I think we need a broader discussion on individual professional development amounts…, what we come to agree to is an appropriate amount that we each should be allowed to spend in a year. And then we decide where we go and how much we spend,” said Jamieson. “I think maybe we can move towards that.”
As a director with SILGA, Eliason said he would try to get that organization to cover part of his $1,500. In addition, he noted how the city benefitted from hosting last year’s SILGA convention.
“So, not only did we save in 2013, and I know that doesn’t apply to 2014, but we did save the travel expenses for 2013 and we brought an extra $10,000 into Salmon Arm… The offset is there, in my opinion, when you look at the macro scene in the budget,” said Eliason.