An audit of employee expenses at City Hall shows costs have been consistently going down. It’s especially shown in travel expenses. You can credit the Internet for that. There’s been a 25-per cent reduction because staff aren’t having to hit the road like they used to, to take courses.
“We’re trying really hard to manage and control those costs, and try to use local training where ever we can,” chief financial officer Todd Burge told reporters. “Some parts of our business, the training is centralized in other parts of the country or the United States. So we try very hard to send one person, and make sure they bring back the knowledge and share it. And just in general we’re trying to manage expenditures down.”
“Quite frankly today with the Internet and other tools, you can Skype into a conference, you can get a copy of that conference after the fact and you can continue to learn and use it in your workplace.”
The audit tracked 86 employee expenses. None were considered ‘inappropriate.’ Eighteen were deemed uneconomical or was not properly authorized. Another 46 had administrative errors, like not having the correct coding, or proper documentation.
Auditor David Wiun continues to recommend having clearer language on what’s expected of employees. Yet he reports the system has improved since 2009.
“We want to clarify the language and make sure the per diems are fair,” Burge said. “Not an advantage or disadvantage to the employee. Some folks when they’re traveling to different parts, costs are different, expenditures are different, and we want to make sure the people understand, you can claim the per diem or produce a reasonable receipt. We’ve put clarity in the language, it was always the intent. We want to make sure the language is clear.”
Better decisions are expected of city employees as well, Burge said. “Some of it relates to using your own car versus renting a car, things like that. Those are really simple decisions to make. In most cases, for travel, if you’re going to Calgary it makes a lot of sense to rent a car because it’s cheaper than the mileage claim.”
Mayor Don Iveson is happy with the results. “This is definitely a time of restraint right now with the economy being the way it is. One of the reasons we’ve been able to post a reasonable surplus and control the growth of the tax levy next year is some restraint on discretionary spending.”
The audit, and management’s response can be found here at items 6.6 and 6.7