Last few weeks have been all about expense news stories. From Senate expense stories to the MLA expenses to MPs flights it seems this has become top of mind.
A result of all this news is that is that the Council office has been hit with a dozen FOI and routine disclosure requests from various media looking for a scandal, scandal, everywhere!
For my part I’ve been posting my travel expenses since the election two and a half years ago. I am not super rigorous about posting, I have been doing it two or three or four times a year, basically whenever Jacob Boon from the Coast submits for routine disclosure I say “oh crap I should update that” and then I do.
I thought I would update the folder and also explain my expenses a bit.
I never claim mileage for my car, because I usually don’t have access to our car, my wife works in Burnside and it is usually with her. It is too much of a hassle to remember it when it is so infrequent. I don’t normally claim parking, not sure if I ever have. I turned over my downtown city hall parking pass to staff to use as a swing pass for Mayor and Council support staff which I very occasionally use, maybe 3-4 times a year. I was not using it enough and there were worries it would have to be considered a taxable benefit, and I sure don’t want to pay $75.00 a month in taxes for a pass I am not using!
I do take cabs. More in the winter than the summer, obviously. I don’t expense cabs to and from work, though sometimes if it is one of those busy days I take a cab home to grab our car and save the taxpayer money if I am driving to meetings in the evening. One time my family needed the car and I had to take a cab in from Bedford and it was $32 or so. That was a bit much, so I try and grab the car for after work stuff! I also catch a lift with other Councillors, thank you Councillors Nicoll, Walker, Adams, Craig, Karsten and especially Watts for letting me hitch a ride from time to time.
Right now I have 4-5 cab receipts in my wallet that I should submit on Monday or Tuesday. I also have to finish my FCM claim, which I really need to get on because we have to put the hotels on our own credit cards and I would like to pay that off!
To be clear – I know that the bigger your district gets the higher your travel expenses are. It makes sense! Councillor Hendsbee has a district it takes a couple hours to drive across, and he does a lot of constituency work, and his expenses are high. I am lucky to live just 1 km from City Hall, and have City Hall in my District. My low expenses reflect more where I live than some moral or ethical ideal.
FINALLY – I am adding to my expense report folder all my other funds I control – 4 years of District Capital expenses, Advertising and Discretionary. Anything I have any direct say over is now in the folder for your review.
Funny story about District Capital – when I won the election, my predecessors had left over $220,000 in incomplete or never to be completed projects on the books. Capital does not disappear at year end if it is “committed” to a project. So when you look you can see I’ve been trying to complete projects or cancel them and reallocated the money for the last two and a half years. I tell you this so you know how I could have more than the $94,000 a year to spend.
Here are my expenses claims: http://wayemason.ca/expenses/