Taxpayers on the hook for Giorgio Mammoliti's 5-star hotel stay
11 councillors billed city $35K to attend convention in Ottawa
An outspoken Toronto city councillor who often rails at what he calls the "endless spending" at city hall has billed taxpayers for his stay at Ottawa's priciest and most elite hotel.
Recently released expense documents show Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, who represents Ward 7, York West, billed taxpayers more than $550 per night for a room at the high-end Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.
He was attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) convention and trade show in Ottawa this past June.
The Chateau Laurier describes itself as the capital's finest luxury hotel with "regal elegance ... reminiscent of a French chateau."
Mammoliti told CBC Toronto he was forced to take the room at the Chateau Laurier because he only decided to attend the convention at the last minute. By then, he said, other hotels near the convention site were full.
"The only one available was the Fairmont, okay? It was last minute, remember that. So that was beyond my control," he said.
City of Toronto policy requires that councillors book the cheapest available room in a given hotel. The policy does not prevent them from booking rooms in five-star star hotels.
Coun. Mike Layton, who represents Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina, spent three nights at the same hotel during the June 1-4 conference and paid $348 per night — including tax — for his room.
Mammoliti also spent $732 for a Porter flight to and from Ottawa, far more than any other councillor spent on transportation.
Several, including Ward 15 Coun. Josh Colle, drove themselves to Ottawa for the conference. Colle charged the city nothing for mileage, even though he was entitled to.
Mammoliti said his flight was so expensive because, again, he booked at the last minute.
"As far as Porter is concerned, I can't tell Porter what to charge and what not to," he said, "especially when it comes to taxes and all the hidden fees."
In the past, Mammoliti has been critical of what he calls unnecessary spending at city hall. He's also claimed city taxes are too high because of it.
"Many of the city's residents have reached out to me, telling me that they are suffering real hardships. They are already forced to make the impossible choice of having to either pay their bills or put food on the table," the councillor wrote in a news release earlier this year.
"All these new taxes punish people who work, own homes or drive cars. While residents don't mind paying their fair share of taxes to fund core City services, they are fed up with having to pay for the endless spending agenda down at City Hall."
City records show Mammoliti's four-night hotel stay alone cost over $2,200, including taxes. He also charged taxpayers $732.53 for the Porter flight, and a further $500 in per diems to cover his daily personal expenses. Toronto residents also paid $130 to pick up his parking tab at Billy Bishop airport while he was gone.
CBC Toronto has learned Mammoliti was in Ottawa this week at another FCM event, and was again staying at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. It's unclear how much Mammoliti will bill taxpayers for his most recent stay, but the hotel currently lists rooms at $570 a night, including tax.
In all, Mammoliti's four-day trip last June cost taxpayers more than $4,700, by far the most of any of the 11 councillors who attended.
Holland had second highest tab
Coun. Michelle Holland, who represents Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest, racked up the second highest bill at just under $3,600 for her five-night stay. Her hotel bill accounted for just over $1,500 of that total.
Coun. Pam McConnell, who died earlier this year, was third at about $3,400.
All councillors' expenses included a registration fee of about $1,000 depending on when they signed up for the conference.
Mayor John Tory, who was in Ottawa for the FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus the day before the convention, wouldn't speak with CBC Toronto about the councillors' bills.
Colle most frugal
But in an email, his office wrote: "It is up to individual councillors to decide when and where they travel on city business. And the Mayor believes councillors will ultimately have to account to their constituents for how they spend their individual office budgets."
The most frugal Toronto politician at the conference was Colle. His three-night trip cost taxpayers a total of about $2,000.
He charged nothing for transportation to Ottawa, and nothing in per diems — $100-a-day stipends that councillors are allowed to use without providing receipts.
Colle also stayed in a bed and breakfast for two nights, and in a hotel on the third. He made his own way to convention events.
Coun. Joe Mihevc, who represents Ward 21, St. Paul's West, attended the same Ottawa conference and billed the city about $2,500 for a five-day stay — the second lowest total.
"What I try to do, frankly, is pretend it's my money," he told CBC Toronto. He says he took the TTC to the airport, then a $266 return Air Canada flight to the capital. While there, he spent about $180 per night for a hotel, including tax.
'It's my constituents who are paying'
"I don't need to have a Chateau Laurier. Cheap accommodation is fine," he said. "When city councillors and elected officials go over the top with their spending, it hurts us all.
"It's my constituents who are paying for this."
Maria Augimeri, who represents Ward 9, York Centre, billed the city about $3,260 to attend the entire four-day conference.
"It was a good trip and I learned a lot about city building," she told CBC Toronto.
But she also demanded her hotel reduce her bill by about $140 because of a noisy garbage truck that kept her up each night of her stay.
"Every dollar I spend, I think, really it's my constituents who are paying for this," Augimeri said.
In all, Torontonians paid almost $35,000 for the 11 councillors to attend the conference.
Mayor Tory was in Ottawa at roughly the same time, for the FCM's Big City Mayor's Caucus. His overnight stay cost the city about $1,260. He also had an aide with him, but that person's costs aren't clear.
To see what your councillor spent on the trip, see the spreadsheet below: