Councillor expenses posted online
Some question public's interest in expense information
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 06:00 am
Here is a list of the total expenses per councillor from October – December, 2012.
Mayor Nolan Crouse – $2,559.25
Coun. Wes Brodhead – $2,976.21
Coun. Len Bracko – $1,351.59 (October and December only)
Coun. Cathy Heron – $3,795.88 (October and December only)
Coun. Roger Lemieux – $317.35 (December only)
Coun. Cam MacKay – $605.51 (October and December only)
Coun. Malcolm Parker – $1,452.97 (December only)
City manager Patrick Draper – $813.68
City councillors’ expenses for the last three months of 2012 are now available online, even if some members question the level of interest in the data.
The itemized expense claim forms for Mayor Nolan Crouse, all six councillors and city manager Patrick Draper are now available on the city website for October, November and December of last year.
The city decided to start posting the information last fall after widespread reporting of questionable expenses from employees of Alberta Health Services.
“I don’t think anyone had ever asked the question,” Crouse said of why the city hadn’t started the practice earlier. “I don’t remember anyone asking for it.”
Crouse described his own expenses as “very modest.”
“I would say they would be viewed as generally modest over the long haul,” Crouse said. “You could go back to my expense accounts since I was first elected and you wouldn’t see anything untoward.”
The reports themselves offer a glimpse of each councillors’ responsibilities, especially on a regional level. Coun. Cathy Heron’s expenses reflect a larger volume of travel for regional matters, such as attending Capital Region Board meetings, than other members of council.
“I think if you actually sit down and break down different expenses, you will see the different roles (of each councillor),” Heron said. “I claim mileage because I am interested in learning more about regional issues.”
Meanwhile councillors with fewer regional responsibilities claim less, such as Coun Roger Lemieux. In his case, Lemieux claimed approximately $317 for all of October, November and December.
Lemieux said he doesn’t often claim mileage because his travels are often related to his work in the private sector.
“I’m out and about travelling, so I’m doing work regardless. It’s part of my full-time job as well. It’s not a big thing. If I bought three dinners in the last year, that would be on the high side.”
Lemieux and Coun. Malcolm Parker even questioned whether posting the information was really worthwhile as they didn’t expect the public to be interested.
“If anybody said, ‘Why did you spend this money,’ I can certainly defend it,” Parker said. “I’m not sure what the readership (of the expense reports) is, so does it really matter?”
Councillors are permitted to claim mileage at approximately $0.51 a kilometre, as well as expenses incurred as a result of their responsibilities as a councillor. They can also claim some office expenses, such as supplies and services such as the cost of a home high-speed Internet connection.
Draper claimed for eight breakfast meetings totalling approximately $295 at Ricky’s All-Day Grill.
Crouse claimed a $6.83 purchase of a greeting card for a local family, as well as $1,000 for a course described as “personal development” in which he learned “speaking skills, microphone use/skills, voice projection, stage and audience.”
Expense claims can be found at www.stalbert.ca/council-city-manager-expense-claim.