Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mockery made

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St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes has unintentionally made a mockery of city council's representation allowance, which was increased this year by $40,000 to $114,000 annually.

Some councillors (though not Mr. Mayes) had said the additional funds were required to help run their offices, hire good staff and communicate with constituents, even though most of them had used some of the monies to support groups and activities in their wards, spending that has nothing to do with communication, but everything to do with politics.

Coun. Mayes says he wants to use $28,000 from his allowance to support Save Our Seine, a volunteer group that should have been told to seek civic monies in another way.

As it stands, councillors have varying degrees of influence over hundreds of thousands of dollars in three separate pots of money -- community incentive grants, per capita ward grants and the land dedication fund.

These funding vehicles each have specific criteria to dole out money on the basis of policies set by council and administered by civil servants. They are transparent and accountable. But not the council representation allowance, which councillors can spend with minimal oversight, a power given to them on the assumption it would be used appropriately for the purposes of running an office.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 A14

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