April deadline set for expense repayments

The government has set a deadline to retrieve about $23,000 in red-flagged expenses that have not been returned from 19 MLAs.

The government has set a deadline to retrieve about $23,000 in red-flagged expenses that have not been returned from 19 MLAs.

The all-party internal economy board voted to give current and former MLAs until April 3 to repay expenses auditor general Jacques Lapointe deemed excessive, inappropriate or duplicate payments.

If current MLAs don’t reimburse the government or provide an explanation as to why they shouldn’t, the amount will be automatically taken off future expenses.

But Deputy Premier Frank Corbett said there’s no way to force former MLAs to pay up.

“That’s beyond my scope to do,” he said.

Unreturned items deemed excessive include former premier Rodney MacDonald’s projector screen and desk kit ($3,250), former cabinet minister Bill Dooks’ website design and programming ($6,234) and Liberal MLA Keith Colwell’s projector ($2,655) and video camera ($1,763).

Expenses flagged as “inappropriate” still out there include Michel Samson’s $1,540 for phone services and Wayne Gaudet’s $1,260 in parking lot sanding fees to a company owned by his brother.

Some MLAs have said they were waiting for direction from the Speaker’s office. Others stood by their expenses. NDP MLA Leonard Epstein has said his $3,000 in books is justified.