SUMMERSIDE — Expenses at Credit Union Place skyboxes and meals and refreshments for city council and committee meetings accounted for a major portion of hospitality expenses for the City of Summerside for the first six months of 2013.
The city has disclosed its expenditures for hospitality expenses and figures show that for the first six months of 2013, the city spent $33,788 on entertainment, tickets and other events and meetings.
Entertainment at Credit Union Place for games involving the Summerside Western Capitals and the former Summerside Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada totalled $4,918 for food and beverages.
Added to that is the $3,000 rental fee for the skybox, bringing the total entertainment cost for the two teams to $7,918 for the period from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2013.
The highest individual line item under hospitality expenses is meals and refreshments for council and committee meetings.
From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2013, $5,999 was spent on meals and refreshment for city council.
Another top expenditure was the Mayor’s New Year’s Levee at $6,778.
Summerside Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall, chairman of the city’s finance committee, said the city has made the figures available to the public as it moves towards a more open and transparent government.
“I think we’re probably one of the most open councils in the Maritimes, at least,” he said.
MacDougall said the figures from Credit Union Place are in large part an effort by the city to entertain prospective businesses and investors looking to come to Summerside.
He said the economic development department will showcase the facility and the city to potential clients or to entertain dignitaries visiting the city.
The deputy mayor had no problems speaking to the issue of meals and refreshments supplied to councillors during the course of the year.
“Sometimes I’m at work at 7 a.m. and I go right from work to a city council meeting that night,” he said. “Would I prefer to be home having dinner with my wife? Yes.”
He said oftentimes the issues of the day cannot be decided in a short period of time and on many occasions these meetings go late into the evening.
Another factor that affects the costs of the hospitality budget are events that are not foreseen or budgeted.
MacDougall pointed to the arrival of the Yorktown cruise ship in June and the reception for gold medallist Heather Moyse as two examples of events that needed to be addressed that were not included in the budget.
“There are things that you have to do whether it be supporting the Heart and Stroke Foundation or those types of things, you have to support them,” he said.
“If we don’t support them it doesn’t look good for your city. The Yorktown, that was something that we didn’t expect to happen. We had to try and host those people to sell our city. We’re hoping there’s going to be something come out of that. Will it benefit us down the road? Yes, hopefully.”