One of the most important responsibilities I have as a City Councillor is to act as a steward for public funds, ensuring that taxpayer dollars and City resources are used efficiently and effectively. As part of this role, my Council colleagues and I spent several months in the latter half of last year deliberating and fine-tuning the 2019-22 Capital and Operating budgets to ensure the City will continue to deliver services Edmontonians need and value over the next four years, and well into the future.
Our responsibility doesn’t end with these larger budgets, though. We also have a number of other funds and expenditures to oversee, including our ward budgets, which have drawn some attention over the past month. I’d like to take this opportunity to outline what these budgets are used for and the policy that regulates their use.
Each Councillor has access to an annual ward budget of $188,718, which can be used for discretionary expenses. The biggest chunk of this covers the costs of our office personnel, however we are able to use these funds for business meetings and hospitality, donations to community organizations, training and professional development, and office items. The way we manage these budgets is currently governed by a series of established guidelines, and amendments to those guidelines, which outline eligible expenses as well as exclusions for these discretionary funds. I should note that these guidelines have never been codified into a central Councillors’ Budget and Expenses Policy. This is something that we are set to discuss and hopefully remedy this April at the next Council Services Committee meeting.
As elected officials, we are ultimately accountable to you for the type and amount of expenses we incur, so our use of these funds is reported regularly and publicly. Details of each Councillor’s expenditures can be found here. I would encourage you to review our expenditures and share your thoughts on this matter.