Lottery commission tightens board expenses

Examining the expense reports, you might think Yukon Lottery Corp. officials had hit the jackpot. The 11 directors of the Yukon Lottery Corp.

Examining the expense reports, you might think Yukon Lottery Corp. officials had hit the jackpot.

The 11 directors of the Yukon Lottery Corp. spent $18,247 travelling to and from Whitehorse for four meetings in fiscal year 2009/10. That’s more than twice the amount spent on travel by the Yukon Housing Corporation’s board and six times the amount spent by the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s board.

And that’s after it trimmed costs.

A new management regime has worked to trim the budget, but the board remains one of the costliest in government.

Board directors travel from Mayo, Dawson City and Watson Lake, said Colleen Parker, the commission’s general manager.

Oddly, travel expenses went up over two years but honoraria went markedly down.

Last year’s travel expenses were up $7,000 from the year previous.

And the total honoraria paid to board members went to $19,643 last year from $27,687 in 2008/09.

“There has been some attendance issues and so there’s less people being paid,” said Parker.

Board members receive $125 for every day of meetings, she said.

“People are doing their civic duty,” she said. “(That) $125 a day is not going to replace their wages. Some of these people have their own businesses and are not going to be able to come.

“So that affects attendance.”

A quorum for the board is six people. The last few meetings had around eight people, said Parker.

She did not know why the board was so large compared to larger organizations in government. The lottery commission is only a distributor of lottery services and has five people in management. It sells the lottery products of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation, which runs the lottery systems in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

The board overhauled its management, which led to a clampdown on board expenses.

Parker began heading the commission’s operations last September, around the time the new chair, Christine Doke, and vice-chair, Eva Stehelin, also joined.

The changing of the guard brought about fewer perks for board members.

The chair used to receive a monthly stipend of $700. That’s been reduced to $500. And the vice-chair use to receive a $300 stipend, but now only receives the $125 per diem all members receive.

Parker didn’t want to discuss what motivated the tighter budget.

“The mandate hasn’t been changed,” she said.

“I don’t really want to speculate as to why. It’s a different style or approach.

“My approach is to have as much as possible prepared for them before their meetings.”

The meeting times have also shrunk from 2.5 days to 1.5 days, she said.

The board is reviewed every fall and the lowered stipends must have been related to some change in the chair and vice-chair’s responsibilities, she said.

“The commission didn’t feel that requirement was there anymore to provide the vice-chair with a monthly stipend,” she said.

The commission is semi-independent from the government and doesn’t have its budget vetted by the legislature.

Parker is the only person to have incurred expenses at the management level in the last two years.

A trip to meet the heads of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation in Winnipeg, and a quick training course on governance in Kingston cost taxpayers $4,850.

“I went to meet (the corporation) because I was new,” said Parker.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

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