I am surprised that after the controversy earlier this year over how the members of Cornwall city council were misusing their personal expense accounts on donations to local charities and community organizations , fundraising golf tournaments, concerts, dinners, dances, galas, and on political party fundraisers, Mayor Bob Kilger has continued to have the City of Cornwall pay for him to attend the Liberal Annual Trillium Dinner on April 8, a fundraiser for the SDSG Provincial Liberal Association. This is a highly questionable practice because municipalities are not permitted to make donations to political parties and political party riding associations.
During the past three years, the City of Cornwall has paid ten times for Mayor Kilger and councillors Rivette, Thibault, and Gardiner to attend political party fundraisers for the SDSG federal and provincial Liberal riding associations. In addition, the City of Cornwall has also paid for Mayor Kilger to attend the Premier McGuinty Trillium Dinner on November 15, 2007, a fundraiser for the Ontario Liberal Party.
I don’t mind people attending political party fundraisers but they should be paying out of their own pocket and not have city taxpayers pay for them to attend. This is highly irregular and is a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars.
The controversial council members’ personal expense accounts which have no rules should be eliminated. They are not necessary because there is already a separate budget of $30,000 for council as a whole including the Mayor for travel, conferences, workshops, and seminars related to city business. There is also a separate public relations budget of $10,000 for council as a whole including the Mayor. It should also be noted that council members’ remuneration is 1/3 tax free to defray out of pocket expenses for council members in the performance of their duties.
Some council members are now ready to give up their personal expense accounts. Unfortunately, they want to add it to their pay. This would result in a 17.4% pay increase, an excessive amount in this period of fiscal restraint. Any future pay increase for city council members should be based on the Consumer Price Index from the previous year.
Brian Lynch, Cornwall Ontario
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