In recent weeks there have been extensive articles in the local news media regarding the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD). To the degree that any of this has focused on budget and expenditure, it would seem logical that current fiscal information can be found on the SSIFPD website. As of this writing, and as I reviewed with the Trustees at the September 16 business meeting, budget/expenditure information available to ratepayers is far from current. The most recent budget posted to the website isn't 2019 or even 2018. It's for 2017.
One critical piece of any government organization's financial picture is a report required by the Financial Information Act. This report includes compensation for any employee earning $75,000 or more, and vendors receiving $25,000 or more in a fiscal year. The 2018 report should have been available at the 2019 AGM, but its introduction was delayed until the following month. [Note that the figures for employee remuneration are only for wages, and do not include pension and other benefits.] For all intents and purposes it was hidden from view unless one knew to look in the minutes of the May 2019 business meeting. In all fairness, I don't think there is a sinister motive to this lack of transparency; rather it is a failure to prioritize access to financial information for all of us who pay the freight.
The SSIFPD Trustees are trying to make a case for a significant increase to the budget. They may have very sound arguments in favour of this, but until all the relevant information is in plain view they will be creating an uphill battle.
Correction Addendum: The SSIFPD remuneration report does include all benefits including medical plans, pensions, long-term disability and other taxable benefits. As per the Financial Information Regulation (included here below): "remuneration" (a) includes any form of salary, wages, bonuses, gratuities, taxable benefits, payment into trust or any form of income deferral paid by the corporation to the employee or on behalf of the employee during the fiscal year being reported upon, whether or not such remuneration is reported under the Income Tax Act (Canada), and (b) does not include anything payable under a severance agreement.
Editors Note: The names and roles of the SSIFPD members who are listed here have been redacted. The individual members are not the focus of this disclosure. This disclosure is for the awareness of the community who fund these services. This information is published for the benefit of the community for discussion and for financial transparency of services provided on the island. The information was shared with us in full and though we chose to redact the personal details to focus the conversation on service equity rather than personal identity. The community of Salt Spring and the Salt Spring Exchange are proud supporters of SSIFPD members and their service.