Greater Victoria Public Library chair defends former CEO’s spending

Expenses charged by Barry Holmes being closely scrutinized

As the City of Windsor continues to seek answers about questionable credit card expenses by its former library CEO, Victoria’s public library staff are combing through receipts and records here.

Before taking the job in Windsor, Barry Holmes was CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 16, 2010.

Last week, other media reported that $131,606 in expenses was racked up on Holmes’ corporate credit card during his three-and-a-half years in the Victoria job.

The news prompted the GVPL to launch a meticulous review of receipts from that time.

They include three restaurant bills over $200 and 11 higher than $100. There is one $500 expense for skin-care products. Also, there are $682 in late-payment charges.

“We’ve been digging,” said library board chair Karel Roessingh. “We’re still going through them – it’s a very long list.”

Roessingh admits some of the expenses appear surprising, but he defends Holmes.

“I am very confident in saying these were library-related expenses,” he said.

The body lotion expense, for instance, was spent to buy lip balm imprinted with the library logo, used as a promotion for teens.

The whole library system only had two credit cards. Both were used by many people for all number of expenses, ranging from conferences to software, Roessingh said.

Halfway through Holmes’ employment, the library implemented a new, more strict credit-card policy. The “vast majority” of the expenses reported by media were made before the new rules, Roessingh said.

Today, he said, the board is confident it has “good, careful spending.”

“I see every expense,” he added. Plus, there are definite criteria on what expenses are reasonable, and there is a no-alcohol policy.

Holmes’ departure from the GVPL was “by mutual consent of the board,” Roessingh said. “His performance was not in question.”

Rather, there was a difference in opinion over the direction of the library.

Holmes has not been in touch with the GVPL since the debate over his expenses was sparked last week.

“Nobody knows where he is,” Roessingh said.

The Windsor Star reported Holmes went on sick leave when expense questions started to arise last spring and never returned. Holmes’ lawyer said his character had been “sullied beyond repair.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Governments invest $79M for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

Sun on its way after Greater Victoria sees wettest July in six years

Environment Canada meteorologists say the drizzle is likely to end soon

Mayor’s charity tournament sells out both Bear Mountain courses

23rd annual event raises funds to make ‘a positive difference in Langford’

After Victoria dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

How Victoria’s little Ecole Beausoleil is at the heart of a national court case

100-year-old Bank Street school and the Sundance facility to be re-designated an elementary school

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

The four-day festival highlights classic hot rods, with a special emphasis on cars built in 1932

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Most Read