Lantzville District Town Hall shown above. District of Lantzville councillors are considering a bylaw that would see their daily allowance for travel expenses increase by $15.

Lantzville District Town Hall shown above. District of Lantzville councillors are considering a bylaw that would see their daily allowance for travel expenses increase by $15.

Lantzville debates higher travel allowances

NANAIMO – Councillors discuss whether to increase their per-diem rate.

Lantzville councillors per-day travel allowance could be going up, but only by a small margin.

On Monday, District of Lantzville council voted in favour of a bylaw that would see the amount of money that councillors are given for meals and incidentals, such as taxis or public transportation fares, increase by $15.

The bylaw states that councillors would be given a per diem of $80 as a basic travel allowance that includes a maximum of $15 for breakfast, $20 for lunch, $35 for dinner and $10 for incidentals. The current per diem rate is $65.

Although the increase would be relatively small, Coun. John Coulson feels it is unnecessary given the size of council and that council as a whole claimed less than $3,200 in expenses in 2015.

“That seems high,” he said. “Just looking at the B.C. government website here and their travel allowances updated on April 1, 2016, allows for $63 and change for per diem … I am content with our former $65 number.”

Documents recently released by the district show that Lantzville councillors spent $3,117 last year. The 2015 expense list includes those former Lantzville councillors who resigned last year. Former councillor Graham Savage had the highest expenses with $1,052.

Meanwhile, Coun. Will Geselbracht supported the increase, citing how little councillors spent in 2015.

“I am looking at what other councillors have spent in the last year and I mean it is pretty minimal,” he said.

The $80 per diem is a flat per diem that does not require councillors to submit receipts.

The only exception is when councillors are traveling to the Greater Vancouver region and if they have requested an amendment to the $80 per diem.

Mayor Colin Haime said he isn’t a fan of flat per diems and prefers having councillors submit receipts.

“In my mind you spend it, you provide the receipts, you get the receipts, you get reimbursed,” Haime said. “I know there is a staff cost associated to that and an individual cost to doing it, but at least nobody can say ‘I went to Tim Hortons and got a donut’ and instead claimed $15 for breakfast. That is just not the way I operate.”

Councillors still need vote on whether to adopt the bylaw, which will happen at a council meeting on June 27.