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Mayor's coffees grinds audit committee
Coffee invoices have prompted the city’s audit committee to ask city staff to review policies around mayor and council’s spending.
The request was made at the audit committee meeting on Feb 24.
The committee consists of chair Hira Chopra, and Couns. Dan Washington and Jack McLeman.
According to Chopra, council is concerned about accusations from members of the public and other councillors that Mayor John Douglas is claiming every cup of coffee he buys when he meets with constituents, staff, or fellow council members.
In 2013, Douglas submitted more than a dozen invoices for as little as $1.67 for the javas.
The amounts are over and above mayor and councillors’ annual stipends. Councillors’ combined expense accounts amounted to $41,707 last year.
Douglas isn’t doing anything wrong, Chopra said. The expenses are already covered by councillors and the mayor in the expense portion of council stipends.
“We can only make recommendations, not set policy, so we want more clarity on this one,” Chopra said.
The audit committee’s concerns are news to Douglas, he said. “I haven’t heard any concerns like that from the audit committee,” he said.
Douglas said he spoke to a similar issue when it was raised at council a couple of months ago. “I said then that coffees or lunches I’ve bought with some people have resulted in a substantial investment in the community.”
Douglas would neither agree or disagree that the committee’s action was heavy handed, and that they could have just asked him not to submit anymore claims for coffee.
“I try to take the high road with these things,” he said. “If some people want to use this for their agenda, well, all I can do is continue to work for the betterment of the city and get things done.”