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Councillors’ expenses to be revealed

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Do you want to know how your councillor and senior staff spend you tax dollars in a timely manner?

You may get the chance starting in January 2014.

The city’s governance subcommittee requested staff to create a policy that would allow councillors and senior executives’ expenses be disclosed on the city’s website.

“Let’s be straight forward and open,” said Flamborough councillor Robert Pasuta. “I’m used to being straight up and forward.”

Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark said the public has been reading about politicians in Canada and the United States purchasing ordinary items at extra-ordinary prices. For instance a United States auditor last year found the Justice Department was spending $16 per muffin for conferences.

Council in July 2011 directed clerks to examine the issue and refer it to the subcommittee for debate.

Clark said Hamilton can avoid any controversy if politicians and staff just disclose their expenses to the public as quickly as possible. He pointedly said if councillors are bound by a disclosure policy then so should senior executives of the corporation.

Subcommittee chair Russ Powers encourage the policy be completed by next year, and the process in place by January 2014 in time for the municipal elections in the fall.

“I have no problem with it being in place,” said Powers. “If the elected officials are going to do it, the senior management team (SMT) should also do it. We need to do it right.”

Clerks stated that all councillors should publicly disclose their expenses, and not just a few politicians. Their draft policy will also outline how to disclose the expenses, whether councillors will do it themselves, or the information will be uploaded by staff to the city’s website site. It is still undetermined when the expenses will be disclosed, whether on a monthly basis, semi-annually, or as the expenses become available. A draft policy is scheduled to be presented to the subcommittee by June, 2013.

Other municipalities already disclose councillors and staff expenses, includingOttawawhich are uploaded to the city’s web site on a monthly basis. The city ofToronto has disclosed its councillors expenses since 2008 on a quarterly basis. The policy does not include staff.

Clark argued the disclosure policy should be done as cheaply as possible, with councillors authorized to do it themselves.

“This prevents any allegations,” said Clark. “We should do it so that is open and transparent.”

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