A taxpayer watchdog group is appealing to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the District of Sooke’s decision not to release the severance package given to former corporate officer Bonnie Sprinkling.
Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria, a non-partisan citizen’s advocacy group, filed a Freedom of Information request, but the district refused to release any information on the severance.
“It’s public money. We would like to know how much was spent on the severance package,” said Stan Bartlett, chair of Grumpy Taxpayers.
District of Sooke chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan said the district and Sprinkling parted amicably, but the severance amount would not be released due to a confidentiality agreement.
“Ms. Sprinkling’s consent was required to release that information,” said Sullivan in a statement. “When contacted, Ms. Sprinkling did not give consent for this information to be released, so the information was not included in the FOIP request.”
Sprinkling, who was with the district for 16 years, was paid $96,998 in 2014, according to district financial statements.
Senior municipal managers are usually paid in a multiple of their salary and that depends on their current salary, age, length of service and other factors.
Bartlett said he wouldn’t be surprised if Sprinkling’s severance was more than $200,000.
The move by the district fly in the face of other municipalities in paying severance. Many municipalities announce the severance publicly, including Saanich when former CAO Paul Murray left. The same occurred recently in Vancouver and Fort St. John.
“We don’t know the circumstance on why she left,” Bartlett said.
“It’s not a way to run a district. You have to be forthcoming or it just backfires.”
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is expected to make a decision on the appeal soon.