Troubles at the Trough: Quesnel Councillor Paull asks some tough questions of Mayor Sjostrom's spending habits
QUESNEL'S CITY AUDITOR RONALD E. RASMUSSEN FEELS MAYOR SJOSTROM'S CHEQUE VOUCHERS ARE "WELL CARRIED OUT", "SUPPORTED", "SATISFACTORILY APPROVED" AND "REASONABLE".
CITY COUNCILLOR RON PAULL BEGS TO DIFFER AND ASKS SOME "TOUGH" QUESTIONS IN HIS SEPTEMBER 28TH LETTER TO THE CARIBOO OBSERVER REGARDING THE MANNER IN WHICH RASMUSSEN HAS DEALT WITH THE ISSUE.
For some time, I have resisted growing public pressure to weigh in on the thorny issue of the mayor’s expenses, but the city auditor’s letter was the proverbial straw that has raised more questions than answers. Was the auditor instructed to adjudicate only the paper trail and not the eligibility and propriety of some of the mayor’s expenses? Why didn’t his opinion go beyond simply saying that all the paperwork is in order? Why, in spite of saying in his letter that he conducted a “review of the overall purpose of the supporting documentation” did he not say (or at least politely hint) that some of those expenses were clearly not eligible to have been claimed? Is he not aware that certain of those expenses are not eligible for reimbursement because under the Canada Income Tax Act, all local government elected officials receive a large portion (in our case it is one third) of their pay as an expense allowance. The City’s Council Indemnity Bylaw No. 1385 of 1997 says, in part “….provide for the payment of an annual indemnity to the Mayor and councillors of the City …., a part of which may be an allowance for expenses incidental to their duties”. In the body of the bylaw, Section 3 states “One-third of such annual indemnity amounts paid to each member of Council shall be paid as an allowance for expenses incidental to the discharge of his or her office.” That language is repeated in the Council Policy for Council Remuneration.