(I wrote this in 2015) 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. (this changed when I was deputy mayor and I continues as President of NSFM, as I need the car more often than before) 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/