Board spending questioned - Metro US

Board spending questioned

A culture of entitlement among Toronto Catholic trustees saw them hire relatives, double-dip on restaurant bills and approve car allowances and health benefits, despite being told by board staff and lawyers such perks weren’t allowed, says a scathing report.

Trustee expenses have ballooned since 2003 and are now among the highest in the province — $100,000 per elected trustee compared to $67,000 in the Toronto public board and just $27,000 in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board — because of the extra benefits and services trustees gave themselves, says provincial adviser Norbert Hartmann in his report Enhancing Public Trust And Confidence, released yesterday.

“I have no tolerance and the government has no tolerance for public dollars being used in inappropriate ways,” Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said. “Where there are inappropriate expenses, inappropriate reimbursements, public money that’s being used for private benefit, all of those things have to change.”

The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s 12 elected trustees are paid $18,671 per year, but cost another $80,000 in other services and benefits, including an $18,000 discretionary fund, $8,600 car allowance, and $3,800 in technology expenses such as cellphone, Internet and printers.

Oliver Carroll, former chair and now budget chief, said the Hartmann report “sums up exactly what went wrong” and agrees there is a culture of entitlement.

“Basically, the board, and I’ll include me in that, set up a process that left it up to individual trustees to sort out whatever they considered appropriate spending. The majority did the right thing, but three or four — a sizable majority — effectively helped themselves.

“The board needs to issue an apology, a very public apology for all of this and then we need to be, collectively, so clean … so there are no (expense) issues.”

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