I thought it might be interesting to go over some of the numbers related to my term on Princeton Town Council. It should give you a slightly better idea of what time commitment is required and some of the duties that elected officials are given.
So far, in 2022, (January 1 to July 27) I have attended a total of 61 meetings and activities. That is a slow year as my first year in this term was far busier. Then COVID-19 appeared and not only did meetings get canceled, but several moved to electronic formats. Some groups reduced their meeting schedule. This year, things are starting to return to how they were pre-COVID.
Breaking Them Down
Here’s a closer look at what those 61 meetings were about. There have been 11 regular meetings of Town Council and 7 Special Meetings of Town Council. All of these run an average of 60-minutes each. Sure, some are shorter and some are longer, but I expect to spend at least an hour in a meeting. I typically arrive 30-minutes before a meeting and leave around 30-minutes after one. I am usually in Town Hall the Friday before a meeting to pick up an Agenda that I will spend at least an hour going over at home the weekend before the meeting. If I have any questions (rarely) I'm in Town Hall on the Monday of the meeting to get answers.
The rest of the meetings I have attended so far this year, 43 in total, are related to my portfolio appointments. I have the largest portfolio of the Councillors on Town Council and come in at second overall as the Mayor carries the largest portfolio. My meetings include such things as Princeton Exhibition Association, Princeton Museum & Archives Society, Princeton Healthcare Steering Committee, Princeton Interagency Committee, and Princeton Skills Centre, to name a few.
I also attend a few out-of-town meetings including Okanagan Regional Library Board (ORL) and Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS). The ORL meetings are held at the library's main office in Kelowna and the SVPS meeting normally rotates throughout the Similkameen Valley hosted in Princeton, Hedley, Keremeos, and Cawston. These meetings are never short and require travel time. The last ORL meeting I attended was an 8-hour day.
Pre-COVID, I attended two annual conventions. I went to the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) meeting in Penticton in the Spring. In April 2022, after a two-year COVID hiatus, I attended SILGA in Salmon Arm. In my first year on Town Council, I also attended the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) AGM and convention in Vancouver. Following a two-year COVID hiatus, this September I will be attending UBCM in Whistler. These conventions are usually four or five days in length and contain various workshops and learning opportunities aimed at elected officials.
The Purpose of So Many Meetings
I see part of my role as Councillor as a conduit. My participation in meetings of various groups and agencies provides these entities a voice at the Town Council table. I think of myself as an important link where I can share concerns, ideas, concepts, and support with either side. I have helped some groups/entities achieve specific goals through my role on Town Council. I won’t single any of them out as I firmly believe the work I do at the Council table is as part of a team. I just bring a voice to the conversation.
The Other Numbers
So, what do I get paid to do all of this stuff? Surely I can’t be doing it all as a volunteer, right? Well, let me give you some numbers to mull over. As a member of Princeton Town Council, I receive an income of $1,037.63 (gross) monthly. A total of $42.52 is deducted for CPP and my net income per month is $995.11. There is a cost-of-living increase factored into that number each year. This is all public information you can find online, if you wanted to.
The Town does cover some expenses. Last year, my expenses totaled $166.66. That was a COVID year but I can tell you that all I claimed during the year was gas. I rarely claim meals, although I could. My expenses during my first year on Town Council were second to the Mayor. That was related to my many out-of-town meetings. Depending on the local meeting, there is the odd lunch provided. When I attend ORL meetings in Kelowna, the ORL covers my fuel and provides lunch as the meetings typically run into the early afternoon. Naturally, convention costs are covered by the Town and are listed as part of my expenses.
The Bottom Line
As you can tell, if you are seeking a seat in a public office in a small town, it won’t be for the paycheque. Oh, and I should point out that the abuse we get at times is free. It’s not uncommon for elected officials to get slammed online through social media for decisions they make. We get stopped in the post office or grocery store and hear people’s complaints. We get phone calls, text messages, and sometimes someone at our door with concerns. It’s all part of the territory. I'm glad residents get in my face at times.
I should add that there are also a lot of times when I get stopped on the street or a private message where someone just wanted to say that we are doing a good job. It's also nice to hear that from time to time.
For me, I’m proud to be part of a team that has pushed Princeton forward at a very challenging time in the history of the community. We have very talented people within Town Hall who do all the dirty work and leave the final decision-making up to Town Council. If you think I should remain on this team, please vote for me, George Elliott, on Saturday, October 15, 2022.
Thank you. It has been a pleasure serving you so far this term.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.