A few councillors rang in expenses under $500 in ’07
Even at city hall — where money is always tight — several councillors have taken it upon themselves to trim costs where they can.
Stittsville-Kanata West Ward Councillor Shad Qadri submitted only $144 in council expenses last year, making him one of four councillors who rang in under $500 in 2007.
Qadri said it wasn’t something that he set out to do, but he makes a point to be careful with spending, whether it’s personal or public dollars.
"It’s just my habit," said Qadri, who operated a business and worked for a publicly-owned business before he got on council.
"It’s good to be frugal with any dollars." He remembers where most of the money was spent.
Other councillors who came in under $500 were Knoxdale-Merivale Ward Councillor Gord Hunter, who didn’t incur any council expenses in 2007; Cumberland Ward Councillor Rob Jellet who came in with $72; and Gloucester-South Nepean Ward Councillor Steve Desroches, who spent $424.
These numbers, along with 2007 councillor salaries, were released recently by the city.
Council expenses pay for various out-of-pocket expenses incurred on city business, and can include parking, meetings with constituents, meetings with city stakeholders and incidentals.
"I generally be as frugal as possible with taxpayers’ dollars," said Desroches.
Desroches said he has also refused a $6,900 car allowance allotted to councillors, despite the size of his ward, which runs from Barrhaven to Gloucester.
"I don’t believe city councillors should be treated any differently than the people they represent," he said. "I don’t think they should be paid for driving to and from work. It’s a point of principle for me."
He acknowledged that other councillors spent thousands of dollars on expenses, but he said there are reasons why his colleagues needed to.
"Some of the councillors have duties that go beyond City of Ottawa duty," he said. "You’d have to talk to them about what their approach is. We have a number of frugal councillors."
"Some of the expenses are big because these members sit on committees," agreed Qadri.