Edmonton

Edmonton councillor pays back $11K spent on MBA tuition

Coun. Jon Dziadyk has reimbursed the city just over $11,000 after using the money from his ward budget to pay for an Executive MBA at the University of Alberta.

Coun. Jon Dziadyk's first semester tuition reimbursement appears on his 2018 expense report

Coun. Jon Dziadyk held a press conference at city hall on Feb. 7 after a CBC article revealed he was spending ward money to pay for 65 per cent of a $67,000 MBA. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Coun. Jon Dziadyk has reimbursed the city just over $11,000 after using money from his ward budget to pay for his Executive MBA studies at the University of Alberta.

Edmonton city councillors' full expense reports for 2018 were posted to the city's website Friday afternoon, and Dziadyk's included the reimbursed amount.

Dziadyk came under fire last week for using part of the taxpayer-funded ward budget to pay for about 65 per cent of the $67,000 degree.

At the end of the nearly two-year degree, Dziadyk would have used $44,000 of taxpayers' money for the degree.

In 2018, Dziadyk spent $168,631 of the $188,718 allowable annual budget.

$1.49 coffee claim

Other items Dzaidyk expensed from his ward budget included $142,094 on personnel, $7,562 on hosting and tickets.

He also claimed several smaller items, including $1.49 for coffee at a councillors' meeting.

Councillor expenses are filed different categories including personnel, communications, promotional items, travel and training and hosting and tickets. 

While some councillors like Andrew Knack don't use the money on meals, hosting and tickets, others do.

Coun. Michael Walters expensed $6,018 in the hosting and tickets category, including a $320 item called A Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama - Councillor and Guest.    

Walters, similar to other councillors, has donated items or money to charitable groups. His include $100 to the CBC Turkey Drive, $100 to Alberta Council of Women's Shelters and $300 to a Blue Quill community event.

Councillors often hold town hall meetings and host other events in their wards.

All councillors use the majority of their ward budgets on personnel — paying staff to support their constituencies and respond to matters in their respective wards.

Mayor Don Iveson had a budget of just under $89,000 for 2018. The majority of his expenses came from travel as well as hosting or attending events. The mayor's staff salaries are not included in this budget. 

Among the 12 councillors, Coun. Tim Cartmell had the highest budget at $182,723 with $173,227 of that being used to pay two full-time staff members.

Cartmell told CBC News his main priority is engaging constituents and talking to them on home turf and he needs staff to do that.

"My focus with my ward budget has always been on constituent involvement," he said. "And so that's my focus with what I use my ward budget for is enabling my staff to do as much constituency engagement as they can and for otherwise for me to do as much engagement as we can in our community."

Cartmell also said he hasn't checked his colleagues' expense reports.

Coun. Tim Cartmell sits beside Sarah Hamilton during a committee meeting in 2018. (CBC)

Coun. Sarah Hamilton spent the least amount from the ward budget, at $129,200. She employs one full-time executive assistant and one part-time staff member.

Tony Caterina has the second lowest expense report at $137,399 with $128,675 going to personnel. He employed his son, Rocco Caterina, as his executive assistant and a second assistant for the first four months of 2018.

Knack uses none of his budget to host events or expense meals. The majority of his goes to three full-time staff members.

"For me, I see more value — just personally — in having the staff who can help address different concerns who can help look into certain policy issues who can help with making sure we're getting our message out to communities."

Knack pointed out that since Jan. 1 2014, councillors have been submitting quarterly expense reports instead of just an annual report, to increase transparency and accountability of council.

Walters and Caterina didn't respond to CBC's request for an interview on Friday. 

@natashariebe

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story reported Coun. Tony Caterina employed only one staff member in 2018 — his son, Rocco Caterina. The councillor had also employed another assistant for the first four months of the year. Caterina's $128,675 in personnel costs were for both positions.
    May 03, 2019 8:10 PM MT

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