Home › Forums › Ottawa Municipal Election 2018: Comment And Debate › Who Are The Big Spenders On Council?
This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Sisco Farraro 1 week, 2 days ago.
July 10, 2018 at 5:39 PM #755264
This October’s upcoming municipal election coupled with comments from various Bulldog readers indicating certain city councillors are using their office expense accounts to promote their re-election, prompted me to do some research.
I went to ottawa.ca and searched for “public disclosure of offices expenses”. I was then able to view expenditures for the mayor and members of Ottawa council from 2015 to 2017. Only the first three months of 2018 have been reported to date so I decided to review only three years of data instead of four at this point in time. This data is provided by city hall so your local councillor can’t argue with these facts.
My goal was to discover which councillors are spendthrifts which ones are more frugal when it comes to spending our tax dollars. By the way, the total amount spent by the mayor and councillors to promote themselves as well as run their offices from 2015 to 2017 was $17.8 million. Projected over four years this amount is in excess of $22 million. Each year a councillor’s budget is roughly $250,000 so in a four-year period each councillor has roughly $1 million to spend on self-promotion and other expenses. It’s no wonder then that once a councillor has been elected, it’s virtually impossible to unseat them.
Now the facts. The biggest spender on city council is Watson, who, over the period 2015 to 2017 spent $1,842,035 of our hard-earned tax dollars. That’s a lot of brownies, Ken. I bet Watson is spending a lot of time on his elliptical machine or headed to the tailor to do some upsizing so his paunch is less evident. No wonder he’s never out of the mayoralty race, $1.8 million is a lot of money to spend on self-promotion.
After Watson, The five highest spenders are 1 – Marianne Wilkinson ($738,588), 2 – Tim Tierney ($736,882), 3 – Catherine McKenney ($736,620), 4 – Mark Taylor ($733,425), and 5 – George Darouze ($728,236). For Darouze, a first-time councillor, finishing in the top five is quite an accomplishment.
The good, or less bad, news, I suppose, is the list of the frugal councillors. Over the same three-year period they are 1 – Keith Egli ($571,441), 2 – Rick Chiarelli ($595,145), 3 – Eli El-Chantiry ($625,131), 4 – Shad Qadri ($625,160), and 5 – Riley Brockington ($630,412). Congratulations gentlemen. Keep looking for more ways to save.
I encourage all readers to sign on to the ottawa.ca website and search using “public disclosure of office expenses” to find out what your councillor spends his or her budget, our tax dollars, on.July 10, 2018 at 6:17 PM #755278
You need to do a bit more than look at the total spent to interpret those numbers. They are not entirely spent things that are possibly interpretted as election promotion but it includes things such as staff salaries, office equipment and basic office supplies. It’s, at best, very misleading to list the entire office budget as the councillor’s or mayor’s electoral fund.
You need to look further into where that money was spent and should be cautious about the implication that I read into your post that there is some kind of impropriety going on. That you didn’t even make the distinction between office expenditures and external expenditures indicates your research was not very thorough and the information was presented in a manner that supports your theory instead of the facts.July 11, 2018 at 5:42 AM #755311
Hello Voter, long time since we had a serious discussion. Your comments are absolutely correct, so one up-thumb for you. The monthly reports to which I referred contain a lot of interesting information including legitimate charges like staff salaries which vary from councillor to councillor. That’s why I encourage all readers to look through the information available for their councillor and check out all the line items.
While councillors have a number of legitimate costs, they also spend a lot of money assisting local groups, providing money to charities, etc. This is something any candidate nominated for council can do if they win the ward and are provided with a budget of $250,000 so I consider many of these expenditures “re-election spending”. All politicians want face time with voters and what better way than appearing at a local charity luncheon, paying $40 for a ticket, saying few words, then charging the $40 to your expense account. At election time no other candidate will have spent as much money the as incumbent has at his or her disposal on local charities, tea parties, lunches, brownies, etc (let’s say $25,000 per annum) unless it comes out of their own pocket, rather than from our tax dollars. It’s easy to be an altruist when you’re spending someone else’s money.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against assisting the community, helping charities, or buying brownies. However, when October arrives voters need to focus on the contribution their candidate has made to the big picture like guns ‘n’ gangs, high rise rules, etc. and not reward those currently sitting on council who are doing small things anyone sitting in their seat can do.July 11, 2018 at 1:04 PM #755349
I do not like expense accounts.
They give a single person too much control over discretionary spending.
Yes, the account will be reviewed by a bean-counter at some later time , ie: after the expense has been incurred. Yes , there can be charge backs but very few bean-counters have the guts to question the spender once that money has already been spent. And, every spender has a story to support their expenses.
I’ve heard lots of stories in my time. I don’t believe in fairy tales.
skoal ,from a bean-counter with guts,
ChazJuly 11, 2018 at 4:48 PM #755360
Chaz. I agree. The purpose of making councillors’ spending habits available for the public to view is supposedly for transparency. However, my councillor has total expenditures of $19,300, $24,900, and $6,900 in 2015 through 2017 respectively for “consulting”. This is transparency? How many line items and other skeletons are being hidden in that closet? Perhaps the courtesy hot dogs he offers when he’s out glad handing and schmoozing the locals are there. If so I hope he’s also got a freezer in that closet.