C-K council expenses under budget

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It cost Chatham-Kent taxpayers $621,412 for council salaries and expenses last year, $20,000 less than budgeted.

Municipal financial services director Gord Quinton said the variance is due to some council members not using their full allotment for items such as conferences.

“The budget is made with the assumption that each council member will attend an out of town conference each year,” he said. “For various reasons that doesn’t happen each year.’

Mayor Randy Hope led the way, receiving $83,795 in base salary and another $13,056 in honorarium related benefits. Taxpayers also paid $3,075 for his office equipment (including cell phones, fax machines and other telecommunications expenses).

According to a report to council “in the case of the mayor, there is an 18.98% benefit included covering CPP, EHT, medical and pension provision (benefit $12,904, HST credit ($2,848).”

Municipal council members in Ontario aren’t required to pay taxes on one third of their incomes.

The mayor also incurred $12,336 in local and $16,921 in international travel for a total of $29,257.

Each of the 17 councillors received an honorarium of $26,542 and honorarium related benefits of $152.

Councillors receive lap top computers, cell phone and expenses and fax machines as well.

Chatham Councillor Michael Bondy spent $1,596 in the category while South Kent Councillor Frank Vercouteren spent $1,514.

Councillors Sulman, Wesley, Thompson, VanDamme, Herman, Carmen McGregor, Myers, Pinsonneault, Robertson, and Fluker spent between $500 and $1000 while councillors Brock McGregor, Leclair, Faas, Canniff and Authier spent less than $500.

In terms of travel and training expenses, new councillors Van Damme and Carmen McGregor led the way with Van Damme receiving $6,431 and McGregor, $3,852.

Topping the $2,000 mark were Vercouteren ($2,716) and Herman ($2,321).

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Next were Brock McGregor ($1,892), Wesley ($1,880), Pinsonneault ($1,568), Thompson ($1,567) and Sulman ($1,058).

The final group included Robertson ($302), Canniff, ($246), Bondy ($122) and Leclair ($119).

Claiming no travel or training expenses were Bryon Fluker, Robert Myers and Mark Authier.

The mayor and council members receive 49 cents per kilometre for travel to meetings, the same amount as municipal staff.

Unlike council members in larger centres, Quinton said Chatham-Kent councillors don’t have a discretionary budget set aside.

“Centres such as London and Windsor council members have money set aside that they can spend in their wards,” he said. “That doesn’t happen here.”

Councillors in each of Windsor’s ten wards received $40,000 to be spent on ward projects while London councillors received a $15,000 annual expense fund.

The practice came under fire during the 2014 elections when critics described the money as “slush funds” for re-election after some elected officials bought television cameras for their own internet shows or bought tires for their personal vehicles.

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