When you oversee an organization with more than $275 million in assets and keep getting attacked for taking responsibility, for making tough decisions, for being transparent and for investing time and energy in a long-term, sustainable approach that benefits all members, a response to that criticism becomes warranted and necessary.
That’s the crux of the issue with board compensation and reimbursement at Lake Country Power. The bottom line is that any member can run for the board at LCP. It’s a democratic process and a democratic organization. In return, elected members – the Board of Directors – receive compensation for time, training and decisions that are made to maintain a safe and reliable electric system for all members.
Board per diems for meeting attendance are taxable. The last time I looked, Uncle Sam received about 40 percent of that amount. We are also reimbursed for personal expenses, which makes up about half of the $40,000 figure that’s been bandied about in local papers.
If some view that figure as unreasonable, then I ask, do you want informed directors who are active, involved and do more than set policy, determine strategic direction and decide budgets? Or do you want uninvolved directors who simply rubber-stamp every proposal that comes forward?
In a co-op, just as in a democracy, elected representatives are accountable to their constituents. And in a co-op, directors hold a fiduciary responsibility to maintain safe and reliable electric service for all members.
I stand accountable and responsible for my decisions and my actions to make sure the co-op can provide members with reliable power virtually every day of the year. In 2011, as board president, I formed several board committees, which means directors spend more time understanding key issues. We are better informed than in the past. We see and hear more information from the staff and that leads to well-informed decisions.
This approach is worth defending. It’s open and transparent for members. And in a co-op, any member who is willing, can put themselves in the same position, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And it doesn’t mean you won’t take heat.
In the meantime, it’s important that members understand both the facts – as well as another perspective – on the issues that arise along the way.
Jack A. Huhta
Board Chair, LCP