Peel Region council members have much leeway when it comes to spending a $22,380 personal expense account provided by taxpayers.
The amount, adjusted annually for inflation, is allocated to each councillor for discretionary use during the four-year term of office.
With the blessing of finance department staff and Peel Region Chair Frank Dale, councillors can be permitted expenditures “over and above” their allowance.
Funds are intended to cover personal expenses incurred as part of municipal duties, such as travel to conferences, social media services, iPads, business-meeting meals, home office equipment, and constituency newsletters.
Council members are also allowed to use the allowance for charitable donations.
Many councillors support community groups, organizations, events and individuals in their constituencies through donations charged to their expense account.
Charitable donations should be made in the Region of Peel’s name, according to policy and Canada Revenue Agency best practices.
It is not unusual to see tickets to events, such as retirement celebrations, charity galas, golf fundraisers and fundraising dinners billed to the public.
Councillors’ allowance spending is itemized in financial statements regularly released online to the public.
… Brampton Coun. John Sprovieri used his taxpayer-funded expense account to help pay for New Delhi professor and anti-fluoride lobbyist Dr. A.K. Shusheela to come to Peel and speak before the region’s Community Water Fluoridation Committee last October.
Sprovieri, a vocal opponent of water fluoridation, donated $1,000 to help the group Concerned Residents of Peel to End Fluoridation cover Shusheela’s appearance costs.
“I thought it was really good value to bring Dr. Shusheela because I read up on her work and I thought it was really good information for the committee members to have to get a perspective from a real expert,” explained Sprovieri, who pointed out the region paid to bring in fluoridation experts on both sides of the issue during a closed-door meeting in January 2016.
According to regional officials, costs related to bringing in five speakers at a water fluoridation education workshop for councillors amounted to $20,754 and was charged to the Public Health budget.