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Councillor fund gets blasted

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation went on the attack yesterday, calling the HRM councillors’ community fund a “recipe for corruption and vote buying.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation went on the attack yesterday, calling the HRM councillors’ community fund a “recipe for corruption and vote buying.”

Councillors can spend $65,000 for non-profit capital projects each year and $3,000 on non-profit organizations.

“The councillors themselves control it and therefore it’s used for political purposes rather than what it should be used for ... the benefit of all taxpayers,” said Kevin Lacey, CTF Atlantic director.

He added he doesn’t have a problem with spending money on these projects, just the process in how it’s done.

“The city is $35 million in debt and we’re talking about budget cuts in a number of areas; at the same time, city councillors are treating our money like it’s theirs and donating to different projects when that should be going through an accountable process.”

Bedford Coun. Tim Outhit said the discretionary funds are tightly controlled and transparent to the public.

“I think (Lacey) is trying to stir up a little attention for his organization,” he said. “There’s no risk of corruption if there are very strict rules on how it can be spent and it’s transparent.”

About a year ago, Outhit and Northwest Arm-South End Coun. Sue Uteck suggested it wouldn’t be a bad idea to freeze salaries and the community fund in light of the municipality’s finances.

The scheduled raises for council (4.04 per cent for the mayor and 1.62 per cent for councillors) took effect yesterday.

“It was decided that wouldn’t be the case and the majority of councillors use the fund for good purposes to improve facilities and parks,” he said, adding that he’d like to revisit this issue.

 
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