Catering, dry cleaning payments higher in Victoria

Analysis of expenditures shows difference in approach between municipalities

Victoria is paying more for certain services than its neighbours.

In 2011, the city paid a total of $82,924 to QV Cafe and Bakery and Truffles Catering Group, according to Victoria’s latest public bodies expenditures report. The document lists all accounts paid in excess of $25,000.

Of the catering expenses, $29,000 was spent to provide 4,000 meals to people detained in police jail cells. The remainder was spent on catering municipal and police meetings such as public advisory committee meetings, or events where the city hosts dignitaries.

Expect Victoria’s catering expenses to be lower in 2012.

“It’s going to be going down,” said Coun. Geoff Young. City council already voted to give up its lunches provided during meetings.

In Saanich, the approach to meetings is more low-key, said finance director Paul Murray.

“I’m pretty darn sure we would be nowhere near that sort of (expenditure),” he said. “Quite often (meetings) will have coffee, but we’ll make the coffee ourself.”

While staff might buy cookies or fruit for some meetings, “it’s rare that we’d have something catered,” he said.

While Victoria still provides food at public advisory committee meetings, that could be next on the chopping block, as council focuses on budget reductions over the coming months.

Dry cleaning for police uniforms is also more generous in Victoria.

Last year, the city paid $81,651 to Individual Drycleaners, mostly for cleaning police uniforms. Calculated as an average expenditure per officer (including members and reserves), it comes to $269 last year.

In Saanich, the police department spends approximately $155 per officer, paid as a taxable benefit.

The RCMP operates differently. Rather than centralizing dry cleaning to one company, it gives officers a dry-cleaning allowance of $5 every two weeks, which comes to about $130 annually. It’s not a perfect comparison, however, as some specialized units receive more and additional dry cleaning may be available in special circumstances.

Victoria police spokesperson Mike Russell defended his department’s extra expense.

“For less than a dollar a day, I don’t have to throw any clothes in my home washing machine with people’s urine or barf on it, that doesn’t go in with my kids’ (laundry) – we’re pretty sure that’s a good investment,” he said.

The Victoria department deals with downtown issues, such as more frequent fights and intoxicated people.

“Those are all things that come onto our clothes, that we come into contact with on a daily basis,” Russell said.

Victoria isn’t the most generous force in B.C. when it comes to uniform cleaning.

The Vancouver police department pays for both dry cleaning and laundering. Its $556,800 budget comes to roughly $427 per officer.

While some forces have moved to what’s called wash-and-wear uniforms that don’t require dry cleaning. It’s an idea the Saanich police have investigated, but rejected. The clothes don’t last as long when washed, so the cost of dry cleaning is made up for in the longevity of the uniforms, said spokesperson Sgt. Dean Jantzen.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

Victoria businesses remain plastic-bag free, despite court ruling

Business association says no one has inquired into re-establishing the use of plastic bags

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Saanich Mayor says ‘no costs asked of municipality’ for proposed film studio

Mayor Fred Haynes made that comment after questions from watchdog group

RCMP identify Sidney bank robbery suspect, believe he is still on Vancouver Island

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Most Read