Vancouver mayor’s office budget may face review if council motion OK’d

Vancouver city council will consider a motion Tuesday to review the amount of money allocated to the mayor’s office and council.

Submitted by NPA Coun. Lisa Dominato, the motion asks council to direct the budget committee to review the mayor’s office budget, about $1.3 million in 2018, and provide a report in advance of the Dec. 11 budget meeting.

“This is the perfect time to have this conversation,” she said Friday. “It’s about strong fiscal management.”

The growth of the mayor’s office budget has been a favourite topic for Vision Vancouver critics after it leapt 23.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Freedom of Information records obtained by a local journalist showed Mayor Gregor Robertson’s discretionary fund doubled, largely to pay for consulting contracts given to former and current political staff.

In 2016, council voted to proactively disclose the mayor’s office expenses and use of his discretionary fund.

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If passed, Dominato’s motion would require the budget committee to make “recommendations regarding savings and efficiencies” related to the mayor’s office and council budgets that could be incorporated into the 2019 draft budget, as well as “any appropriate options to re-allocate portions of the mayor’s office budget to support the duties and constituency activities of city councillors.”

Compared to the mayor’s office budget of about $1.3 million, the 2018 budget allocated about $1.7 million to 10 councillors.

In 2017, the mayor’s office discretionary expenses totalled $706,165 while the discretionary expenses for all city councillors totalled $20,880, less than three per cent of the mayor’s expenditures.

Dominato said she believes her motion will have support on council, as Mayor Kennedy Stewart has signalled a different approach to governance. She pointed to the restoration of the traditional rotation of the deputy mayor duties, which was changed during Robertson’s time as mayor.

Stewart has also committed to appointing councillors to various boards and committees on a non-partisan basis.

“We have an eclectic multi-party council led by an independent mayor,” said Dominato. “It’s a good time to question do we still need that allocation, or could the money be allocated differently?”

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