EDITORIAL: Council creating unneeded speculation

We say: Public has a right to know where its tax money is spent.

Open and transparent government is a tenet of our democracy, and it doesn’t take much for government to lose its way on those matters quickly.

Case in point: the District of Sooke’s severance package to former corporate officer Bonnie Sprinkling.

For months the departure of Sprinkling from Municipal Hall has been shrouded in mystery. First, there were the questions on why she left and then came more questions on her severance.

Municipal Hall staffers and politicians have been mum on the whole affair, citing confidentiality between the two parties.

Yet, Sooke seems to be one of only a few municipalities to withhold information on severance.

Many municipalities announce severance publicly when it comes to senior managers, including Saanich when former CAO Paul Murray left. The same occurred recently in Vancouver and Fort St. John.

Those communities release the information because they know the public is going to ask and has a right to know where the money went, and when the info isn’t released the rumours fly and get bigger and bigger.

We have no problem that the municipality gave severance (estimated at about $200,000 from one source). After all a healthy severance is a necessary protection for senior managers who can lose their jobs at the whim of their masters – both political and otherwise.

The difficulty we do have is how this whole affair has developed.

We would ask all of council why the games? The entire council and mayor ran on a platform of open and clean government, and now that very idea is put in question.

The public has a right to know where its tax money is spent. As well, there is a need to add clarity for the public as opposed to creating speculation and fostering distrust of government.

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