To get good insightful answers, how the question is framed matters. I missed an opportunity on Thursday
It’s not the most comprehensive or accurate way of tracking how City Councillors spend, but Councillor’s 2013 expense report is now public, showing Councillors charging between $30 (the late Bernie Morelli is listed at $0) to $10,896.99 in expenses last year.
The report provides a limited picture of travel and meeting related expenses members of Council charged in 2013. Due to the method of totaling expenses, the summarized totals do not reflect total spending.
Council has been promising to release detailed expense and spending information to the public.
The matter is currently at the Governance Committee, where it seems to encourage new delays at each meeting it is brought up.
It’s no small irony that the Governance Committee has taken on the responsibilities of the now disbanded “Accountability and Transparency Committee”. While not has bad as that disgraced committee, the Governance Committee rarely meets and doesn’t seem to get much of its accountability and transparency work complete.
Councillors are paid $71,255.01 yearly by the City. The Mayor is paid $118,517.62. The salary is one-third tax-free, giving an equivalent salary of $88,601 for Councillors and $158,279 for the Mayor.
In addition, the report states Mayor Bob Bratina received $13,500 for sitting on the Hamilton Utilities Corporation and expensed $3,600 for this role.
Councillor Russ Powers added $ to his remuneration with $3,781 for sitting on the Niagara Escarpment Commission and $12,000 as president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. He expensed $2,560.17 in his AMO role.
Travel and Mileage
Ward 7 Councillor Scott Duvall had the highest expenses in 2013 at $10,896.99. As the City’s representative to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities travel costs accounted for all but $50 of his expense claims.
The highest non-travel expenses were claimed by the two Councillor’s with the largest wards and most mileage. Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson claimed $5,520.48 in mileage for 2013, and $289.50 in expenses. Ward 14 Councillor Rob Pasuta claimed $4,064.16 in mileage and $609.27 in expenses.
The Mayor’s non-travel expenses of $2,446.76 include attendance at numerous community events.
The expense totals are solely for the cost of the Council members attendance, and does not include expenses charged to their office budgets for others to attend a function or cost of fun for meetings. Those expenses are disclosed, but not part of the total.
The Mayor’s expense report includes the City paying for $2,486.00 for a 120 guest event at Mt. Pleasant’s (Ontario) Devlin’s Country Bistro. The Mayor’s expense total of $2,446.76 reflects $20.72 of that event. The event was related to Clara’s Climb. A luncheon for the CANUSA games cost $1,013.61 for 12 attendees, the Mayor’s expense total reflects $84.47.
The late Ward 3 Councillor Bernie Morelli, who died on January 14, 2014, had no expense claims in 2013.
Ward 15 Councillor Judi Partridge only filed $30 in expenses. Her office purchased two tickets to the Environment Hamilton Environmentalist of the Year Dinner at $30 each. The $60 total is reflected as $30 in the City’s disclosure.