As the Mayor sees it, with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

Mayor addresses the question, "What is a conflict of interest?"

I get asked quite a few questions. It is part of having been elected I suppose. Recently I was asked why I was going to raise taxes by one percent. Since the District budget has been set, the tax rates to cover the budget have been decided and for the most part people have paid their taxes for the year this question baffled me.

The person said that they had been told that the sum of $2000 was equivalent to a one percent tax increase and that The District needed to spend an extra $2000. This person was genuinely upset. They live on an extremely limited budget. Any increase in their cost of living would be serious. I explained to them that District staff is the best source to ask about taxes and the budget. Inaccurate statements around the business of The District cause worry and grief. It is best not to listen to people that are not accurate in their reporting.

I was also asked if all Council members including the Mayor were trained in what constitutes conflict of interest. I took this as a purely theoretical question and answered it as such. Each elected official will attend a newly elected official course put on by the Local Government Learning Association that covers such topics as conflict of interest. In addition to this training there is a one day seminar that must be attended prior to taking office which covers off ethical behaviour and rules of conduct.

Conflict of interest is about perception.  Whether an elected official has a conflict of interest does not depend on whether the elected official considers that their special interest in a matter would influence their position on the matter (their subjective judgment).  What matters is whether a reasonable observer would consider that it could influence their position (an objective judgment).

In simple terms, if it will look like a conflict to the average person, it is a conflict and the elected official needs to declare it. In all cases it is up to the individual elected official to declare a conflict. The only thing that can be done wrong is to fail to deal with the conflict properly. If an elected official is in conflict and does not declare the conflict, then they may be found to have breeched ethical conduct rules.

Some of you will have noticed what looks like a small drill rig and other equipment working in the field behind the Fire hall. All this is part of the required testing for the outflow of the wastewater treatment plant. We are exploring the use of Rapid Infiltration Basins rather than have a large network of underground pipes for dealing with the outflow in the winter. If the RIB concept can be used, then there will be less land tied up for the wastewater system.

There will be another meeting with EcoTek in August to discuss the design and costs of the solar aquatics system. We did release a proposed design drawing of the wastewater treatment building last week and Jill Hayward was kind enough to see that it was placed in the paper.

We are also progressing rapidly with the plans for the septage receiving facility. This portion of the project will be completed prior to the wastewater treatment plant coming online. Rather than having a large temporary holding tank, the plan is to use the pipes that will run from the septage receiving station to the lift station to hold the septage. This will provide savings and no tank to remove later. A short list of the technologies that can be used to pre-treat the septage has been developed and the due diligence checks are being done on the equipment.

The Communities in Bloom committee urges us all to try and make our properties look as good as they can be. The addition of a few flowers and a nicely trimmed lawn go a long way to showing off our community. Monday July 16 Insight Tire and Stamer Logging will be providing gas and oil for the weed whacking volunteers. Many thanks to them and to all the sponsors of the events in our community.

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