Coun. Russ Wyatt claimed more business meeting expenses than Winnipeg's 14 other city councillors combined last year, a feat that allows the Transcona representative to retain his crown as king of the business lunch.
Wyatt claimed $5,065 in business meeting expenses in 2016, according to data posted on the city's website and analyzed by CBC News. His tab is slightly more than half of all the business meal expenses claimed by councillors last year.
"I'm busy meeting with people to keep the city moving. I won't apologize for it," Wyatt said in a telephone interview. "It's all audited, it's all expensed."
- Russ Wyatt tops all councillors for restaurant bills, at $6.7K last year
- Russ Wyatt's restaurant tab tops all councillors at $3K in 2 months
Wyatt's favourite haunts included Rae & Jerry's Steakhouse, Kum Koon Garden and Peasant Cookery. The latter two restaurants are located within blocks of city hall.
Councillors are allowed to claim meal expenses as part of their annual ward allowance, which was a maximum of $80,241 in 2016, deputy city clerk Marc Lemoine said.
That figure covers councillors' spending on everything from salaries for their executive assistants to conference travel to their mobile phone bills and other office expenses.
Most councillors came close to using their full limit. Coun. Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) spent the least with a $73,472 expense tab for 2016.
Morantz, however, was one of two councillors to spend more than $10,000 on advertising last year. Coun. Jeff Browaty spent the most on ads, with a $10,624 tab that included advertising in newspapers and on recycling bins.
Council speaker Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) had the lowest advertising tab, spending only $2,202.
The expense reports also reveal quirks such as $1,462 spent on florists by Wyatt, a $135 fridge purchased by South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes and Daniel McIntyre Coun. Cindy Gilroy's status as the councillor who spent the most public funds — $79.42 — at Tim Hortons in 2016.
The data also reveals St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard spent $11.43 on parking to attend Winnipeg's Comic Con, a gathering where many people dressed up as comic book and science fiction characters.
Allard went as Jor-El, Superman's father, said his assistant Ryan Palmquist.
Councillors' 2016 ward expenses will be audited and presented to council later this year.