Legislated yearly audits mean Oak Bay doesn’t expect any Darryl Plecas styled financial reports, according to Director of Financial Services Debbie Carter.
The legislative Speaker of the House wrote a 76-page report released to the public earlier this month that laid out allegations of expensive personal indulgences that Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and Clerk Craig James charged to the Legislative Assembly.
For the last few years, KPMG has conducted audits of Oak Bay’s finances. “They typically do random samples,” Carter said. “They probably won’t go through every employee annually, but through the course of a few years I’m pretty sure they touch on all of those expenses. They pay pretty close attention to employees and elected officials’ remuneration and expenses.”
Carter said the district has checks and balances in place. Expense claims go through the appropriate department before making their way to the districts’ financial wing. After that, there’s often a few more eyes that look over claims.
That said, there is not a set total limit on how much elected officials can expense every year.
Councillors are entitled to ferry and airfare costs for events taking place outside of the Capital Regional District. They also receive a $55 per diem for meals. Events in Greater Vancouver or Whistler allow for an additional $10. Bylaws also allow for a $20 per diem in discretionary expenses, reimbursed without receipts.
“Because we have a new council, we have conducted extensive orientation sessions. Most of those things have been touched on through that process,” Carter said. “When expense claims come in, they are scrutinized really closely. If there’s somthing that’s not clear on the request for reimbursement, then we would go back and ask the appropriate questions of staff or council. That’s just done through regular financial checks and internal controls.”
As is required by provincial legislation, summaries of council and staff salaries, as well as expenses, are made available to the public every year. The report for 2018 is expected at the end of June.