Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is calling on mayor-elect John Tory to change the rules governing councillor expense budgets at his first meeting of council in December.
“Council’s expense policy lacks common sense,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Matthew McGuire. “Councillor expenses are just that: councillor expenses. They should come out of council expense budgets, not a bottomless general expense budget.”
The coalition is also calling for third-quarter expenses to be released early in an election year. “It’s imperative for voters to be fully-informed while casting ballots,” McGuire argued.
In July 2012, a series of motions altered the Councillor Expense Policy to remove costs of constituency offices, internet for home offices, newsletters, and cell phone charges out of the council expense budget and into the limitless general expense budget. Another motion renamed “Councillor Expense Policy” to “Constituency Services and Office Budget”. According to Winnie Li, Director of Council and Support Services, the 2012 changes added $18,113 to each councillor’s office budget. The increase totaled nearly $800,000 across all 44 councillors.
According to the Toronto Sun, councillors expensed $511,401 in the first three quarters of 2011. That has increased to $917,280 in the first three quarters of 2014, thanks in large part to the 2012 changes.
“We’d love to see mayor-elect John Tory take real and meaningful action at his first meeting by closing the loopholes in the councillor expense policy that were introduced in 2012,” McGuire added.
“Tory has political capital to spend, and he should spend it to save taxpayers money.”