The overseas travel of a former library CEO and a $400 dinner for senior staff at the home of the water commission’s general manager have come under the scrutiny of Halifax’s auditor general.
In issuing his report on Friday, Auditor General Larry Munroe said he is generally happy with what he found as he probed expenses of council and senior managers at the Halifax Regional Municipality
But he pointed to specific concerns with the spending of two top officials.
In one case, Halifax Regional Water Commission general manager Carl Yates expensed a recognition dinner at his home for senior management and their spouses.
Munroe said the bill for food and alcohol was nearly $400. And he noted the daily meal allowance at the water commission is $81.55, higher than the $65 allowed for HRM employees.
That’s upset one municipal councillor.
"They're the last of the big spenders, I guess," Dartmouth Centre Coun. Gloria McCluskey said.
"When you look at their meal allowance compared to everybody else's, it's more. And when you look at some of the ways they spent money — it's bothersome to me."
A spokesman for the water commission says per diem rates are under review, and the board will discuss in more detail the auditor’s findings in the new year.
Trips to Finland and Spain
The auditor also questioned two trips — one to Finland and one to Spain — taken by Judy Hare when she headed Halifax Public Libraries. She went to attend library conferences.
Hare billed the library for $300-per-night hotel rooms in Helsinki, although she covered her airfare while organizers picked up other expenses.
"The [Office of the Auditor General] questions the reasonableness of two international trips in one year at some expense to HRM taxpayers," the report says.
"There was no documentation provided supporting the business case for why attendance was required."
Paula Saulnier, the library’s interim chief executive, said Hare was invited to both conferences because of interest in the construction of the new central library on Spring Garden Road.
“The library is governed by a library board and they would have approved that,” Saulnier said.