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News clips: Adjala-Tos mileage expenses

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In Adjala-Tosorontio
Dec 9th, 2016
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Councillor Floyd Pinto

Adjala-Tosorontio councillor questions CAO’s mileage payments

By Brad Pritchard Alliston Herald

An Adjala-Tosorontio councillor is raising new questions about how public money is being spent at the township.

Ward 1 Coun. Floyd Pinto is criticizing the monthly mileage expense reports filed by chief administrative officer Eric Wargel for using his personal vehicle on township business.

Pinto said he was reviewing copies of the township’s monthly accounts when he noticed Wargel was receiving anywhere between $500 and $700 per month.

He asked the township treasurer for a copy of the mileage form to see a detailed breakdown of the expense claims, but, to his surprise, the purpose section was left blank.

“If it is for township business, then why is the purpose not being put out there?” he asked. “I go out on township business, all the councillors go out on township business, and we are all supposed to put the purpose or the place.”

Wargel said he hasn’t previously been required to include this information in his expense forms.

“I’m expected to drive my personal vehicle for township business … and I report the mileage on a daily basis,” he said. “I show the start and the end mileage I drive each day. Because I am driving the mileage for different purposes, I do multiple destinations and routes each day, I haven’t filed out the purpose part of the mileage form.”

Wargel, who has worked for the township since 1989 and became chief administrative officer in May 2010, has received mileage payments during his entire career with the municipality.

He said none of the employees who use personal or township vehicles are required to note the purpose of their travels on expense forms.

He said the concern came “out of the blue,” but he is willing to make changes.

“I put the mileage down for business use and, if council wants more detail on it, I can certainly put more detail down. They just never approached us with this concern before,” he said.

Mayor Mary Small Brett said council will be looking at this issue, along with a number of other employee matters, at a council meeting in January. She said the municipality operates largely on a “trust factor.”

“If you don’t have trust in your staff, then you’re lost,” she said. “It’s from the work that they produce, too. You know inspections have to be done, you know there are municipal activities happening in the township, so there hasn’t been that question.”

This isn’t the first time Pinto has spoken out about spending at the township.

In 2015, he and Coun. Bob Meadows asked questions about the costs associated with the post-retirement benefits for municipal employees. At the request of Pinto, the OPP conducted an investigation into the previous council’s decision to extend the benefits to age 80 from age 65 over several years.

When the OPP concluded its investigation in September, it found no criminal wrongdoing, but did identify “deficiencies in corporate policies and procedures.”

Small Brett said a new bylaw that will be presented to council for consideration Dec. 12 proposes to claw back the benefits over two stages. She said the bylaw, if passed, will reduce the benefits to age 75 as of March 2017, and from 75 to retirement age in March 2019.

“We have to deal with it,” she said. “It can be amended going forward, to give fair compensation for the service they render. We have a great staff and it’s not an easy decision to make.”

Pinto levels new allegations of inappropriate mileage claims

New Tecumseth Free Press November 30 2016

Adjala Tosorontio Ward 1 councillor Floyd Pinto has doubled down on his allegations of misused municipal funds suggesting now that monthly mileage expense claims paid out to a senior manager, were being approved without oversight.

“It came to my notice that a certain staff member of the top management was claiming mileage in the amount of $500-$700 every month with no purpose of the mileage indicated on the staff members mileage form, yet these mileage expenses were being approved by the treasurer without any questions,” Mr. Pinto told Free Press Online via email. “The treasurer informed council that the employee in question was allotted this mileage during negotiations as part of the employees remuneration. … that the mileage is from one place to another ….. that if it is from one place to another then the mileage should be the same everyday, why is the mileage different?

Mr. Pinto said he believes that if the mileage is compensation for the manager’s daily travel to and from the Administration Centre in Adjala in their personal vehicle, the monthly claim should be the same. Mileage forms the councillor supplied to Free Press Online show a July 2016 claim for 1,186 km or $640.44 @ 54 cents per km. And August 2016, 1,061 km or $572.94.

“This employee could be going grocery shopping or picking up their children on Township tax dollars,” wrote Mr Pinto. “This is the second major problem in the township accounts, how many more problems are there that this council is not being made aware of?”

Deputy mayor Doug Little told Free Press Online that he was a member of council that made the decision to compensate the manager for use of the personal vehicle, because it was more cost effective than purchasing a vehicle.

“I shared with council members the decision made … many years ago, which I was part of, on the costs differential between continuing with allocated vehicle for that position as opposed to mileage payments while on Township business,” said Mr. Little. “The report certainly substantiated paying mileage for privately owned vehicle and outweighed ‎the costs of licensing, insurance, fuel, maintenance and frequent replacement of corporate owned truck.”

The deputy mayor added, “right or wrong, I believe this was verbal direction‎ to staff through the Mayor’s (Tom Walsh at the time) office from the decision of council and has been in effect for many many years. I am not aware of any concerns from our professional auditors as to this process either on payment or reporting of the milage claims.”

Mr. Little said he believes a report today would conclude that paying mileage for private vehicle use on Township business, would still be the most cost effective.

“There has been no request by any council member to bring this mileage compensation back for a report on its merits,” he said. “I have always been a strong advocate of the Democratic system and even though I don’t get the answer I want, it’s the majority rule.”

And, in a nod to Mr. Pinto’s web page where he posts and comments on municipal business, including laying out his allegations, the deputy mayor said “I believe as elected directors of our corporation ‎it’s imperative to have decisions made in council chambers with the information available and not being mislead by perception and personal opinions.”

Councillors met in special closed session meeting November 15, to discuss the post retirement benefits situation. It’s expected that a resolution was reached and will be made public at the Dec. 12 council meeting.

Letters

‘No clear understanding as to who actually approved this benefit’

From Janet Budgell December 5 2016

In response to the article regarding the mileage expenses in Adjala Tosorontio, and comments attributed to Ward 1 councillor Floyd Pinto, and Deputy mayor Doug Little, I question why the “manager” of a small municipality would receive a car or monthly car travel expenses with no expectation of paperwork.
It appears, yet again, there is no clear understanding as to who actually approved this benefit as there seems to be no evidence of supporting documentation or council approval.

Since the “manager” is responsible to hire and supervise staff, he/she obviously needs to focus on important in-house issues such as: (1) the post-retirement benefits debacle; (2) a Strategic Plan without timelines or evaluation process; (3) promoting an expensive and environmentally disastrous below water gravel pit; (4) permitting thousands of trucks to create a mountain of potentially toxic soil; and (5) against the taxpayers’ interests, substantially increasing the number of homes in Everett and Colgan in areas where there is a limited supply of potable water as stated by the Ontario Municipal Board.
This “manager” must concentrate on those issues and others which affect our community as he/she is responsible for “…ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the municipality.” (Ontario Municipal Act)

‘In the real world there are rules to be followed’

From Annette Bays December 6, 2016

Adjala Tosorontio Deputy Mayor Doug Little seems to have missed the point: the question isn’t the Township providing a vehicle vs paying mileage for using a personal vehicle on Township business, it is again, accountability and transparency.

Why is the mileage not being accurately logged? Any employee using their vehicle on Township business should be required to log the mileage in a verifiable and accurate manner.

I was at the meeting when Councillor Floyd Pinto questioned the mileage spending and the Treasurer’s response was to the effect that she trusted the people putting in these claims and felt there was no reason for details.

Well, this isn’t a bake sale. This corporation is supposed to be run like a business. She was not hired to rubber-stamp on her feelings.

In the real world there are rules to be followed, and as the Deputy Mayor said, “it’s imperative to have decisions made … with the information available and not being mislead by perception and personal opinions.”

Exactly, so where is the information necessary to verify that these car trips were necessary for Town business?

‘Resignations are due right now’

From Robert Dermott December 7, 2016

In answer to recent letters from Ms. Budgell and Ms. Bays, keep in mind that these clowns running Adjala-Tosorontio are just pulling answers out of thin air right now trying to cover-up their cover-ups.
The one nice thing about telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you have said.
Resignations are due right now.

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