An old contentious issue resurfaced when Westario Power’s CEO and Chair dropped by Brockton Council for a visit.
Councilor Chris Oberle took advantage of the Westario visit of CEO David Leonce and Board Chair George Bridge to challenge the stipend Westario Board of Directors receive.
Oberle refers to the pay directors receive as inappropriate, as it costs just over 100 thousand dollars to cover the stipends of Westario’s nine Board of Director Members.
He says this works out to be 11 thousand dollars a year, which he considers overly generous since the directors only attend four meetings a year.
Of the nine directors, eight represent their member municipality (about half of whom are mayors/councilors) and the 9th is a representative of Fortis Ontario a private utility company.
Oberle says it is time Westario seriously reevaluate how much compensation it provides its directors with and reinvest that money into what their rates as well as their system.
Westario Board of Director Chair George Bridge defends the stipend, saying the Board of Directors play an important role which comes with heavy responsibility and liability.
He adds Westario is a private company and as such it is not unusual for the stipend to be higher than the rates of committees of council.
Oberle challenges that argument noting that Westario may be a private company, but it is majority owned by municipalities. (8 of the 9 partners are municipalities with Fortis Ontario being the only private member)
Oberle likens the situation to the Saugeen Conservation Authority which like Westario is made up of partner municipalities that have councilors sit as directors.
He says like Westario, the Saugeen Conservation Authority directors play an important role and shares similar responsibilities and liabilities.
However unlike Westario, Oberle says the Conservation directors earn a fraction of what Westario directors do.
Westario’s high stipends has been a controversial issue in Brockton for years.
During the election campaign, Mayor Chris Peabody vowed to donate all of his Westario stipends to local projects and charities during his four year term.
He made his first donation in March with an 11 hundred dollar cheque to the Walkerton CT project.