Travel costs top $31,000 for Charlottetown councillors

Dave Stewart
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Charlottetown City Hall

Mayor Clifford Lee and the 10 city councillors have spent more than $31,000 of taxpayers’ money on travel expenses so far this year.

The City of Charlottetown officially posted the list of expenses on its website on Tuesday, the first time it has done so since last September.

Coun. Cecil Villard leads the way, spending more than $6,600 to attend meetings that include the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Niagara, Ont., and Canadian Capital Cities meetings in Ottawa. Villard sits on the board of both organizations.

At the other end of the spectrum, Couns. Eddie Rice and Danny Redmond didn’t spend a dime of taxpayers’ money, according to the report.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A LIST OF COUNCIL EXPENSES.

Lee ran up a tab of $4,386.53 to attend the Atlantic Mayors Congress, Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities meetings in Charlottetown and Kensington, as well as the national federation meeting in Niagara, Ont. Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume also hosted a meeting with Lee this year. That trip, and Lee’s attendance at the Confederation Centre board meetings, cost $1,488.15.

In an effort to be more transparent, the city announced in September 2013 that it would post how much the mayors and councillors were charging taxpayers on a quarterly basis.

Villard, chairman of administrative services, acknowledged that hasn’t happened but there’s a reason for it.

“One of the reason why it is only coming out now is because, up until this point in time, there wouldn’t be an awful lot of travelling taking place,’’ Villard said. ‘It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.’’

The administrative services chairman explains that it makes more sense to wait until there is enough to report, put it on the website and let the public judge for themselves.

As for his own expenses, Villard said sitting on two national committees means he’s going to travel as much, if not more, than the mayor himself.

“Obviously I have an interest in what is going on on the national scene, plus I’m very interested in issues pertaining to how we collaborate with the other levels of government. I’m the only one from the city that attends those meetings.’’

While the list does indicate how much it cost taxpayers to send their elected representatives on work trips, it does not tell the whole story. There is no breakdown on what the money was spent on while they were there.

Villard said councillors receive a $125 per diem when they attend a full-day meeting to cover meals and incidentals. Other costs the expenses cover include flights and other modes of transportation, accommodations and registration which, at national conferences, can run about $700 per person.

Villard said in his trips to Niagara, he had to fly into Toronto and take a shuttle to the conference in Niagara.

Villard said he plans on talking to Roy Main, the city’s chief administrative officer, about releasing the expenses list on a more regular basis and a more detailed explanation as to what the money was spent on.

“I don’t think there is a problem in breaking it down. I personally believe that we should be completely open and accountable to the public. I know it sounds cliché but I actually do believe that.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Capital Cities Atlantic Mayors Congress Confederation Centre board Quebec Partnership 2014/Confederation Centre board

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Niagara, Kensington Quebec City Ottawa Toronto Thunder Bay

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Recent comments

  • dan
    July 16, 2014 - 18:41

    it is pretty sad that the City Council have voted themselves a per diam that is greater than the Fed. Gov. This supposed to be service to the community. In other times gentlemen served their community free of charge, - I don't dare think of what Mr. MacFaydian will cash in when he leaves. I forget what he gets in severance for every week he has "served". Let's see that on the web site. We should have a full account of what is being paid in honorariums, severance and and cost of other fringe benefits . Let us see it all, --- Maybe Mr Brown can get the information and pass on to people as he goes door to door.

  • don
    July 16, 2014 - 13:07

    can you not put it as to what is spent on food,hotels,travel. be nice to know how well you eat,and how nice a room you stay in on the tax payers money.

    • It would.........
      July 16, 2014 - 17:12

      It would also be nice if certain people wouldn't whine about every single story posted in the Guardian.

  • Just a thought...
    July 16, 2014 - 08:46

    Shouldn't travel expenses cover travel? If you live in Charlottetown why are you claiming travel expenses for a conference in Charlottetown? $375 looks like a maxed out per diem food/incidentals budget for 3 days now call me crazy but when you live in the city that hosts the conference I feel as tho you should pay for your own food since you can go drive the 10 mins to do so! $125/day for food and incidentals is a much better rate then I get working for the Feds at $90/day and I have to be 75kms or more away from home inorder to claim those meals/incidentals

  • Islander
    July 16, 2014 - 08:07

    Would love to be able to spend like these ones do. Why would it cost anyone all this money for trips to Ontario and here on island. Completely unreal. Good for you Eddie Rice and Danny Redmond .

  • rundal
    July 16, 2014 - 07:57

    About time, and the Councillors with no expenses or very little are to be applauded. Mr. Redmond deserves to be re-elected, I hope he is. I applaud Lantz for leaving, and regret that more are not following his lead to go and let new thoughts and blood into the chambers, including the Mayor. This is only expenses for half a year, so there is more to come, let us see what a whole year looks like.

  • Colonel Sanders MacKinley
    July 16, 2014 - 07:01

    Rookies. I could out expense the lot of them with one bucket behind my back.

  • Mike M
    July 16, 2014 - 06:37

    Commendable Mr Redmond and Mr.Rice.