Letter: TNRD reaches big leagues in terms of questionable spending

Editor:

Regarding KTW’s feature on spending at the TNRD, if you truly love paying taxes, do not read this letter.

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However, maybe your tax bill is somewhat higher than you think it should be? If so, then read on. Plus, read the entire KTW series. Reporter Jessica Wallace has done an outstanding job in researching and putting this story together.

A few of my queries:

1. Who checked the legitimacy of TNRD expense account claims? Was it the same person who approved each claim?

2. What organization has a line item on the budget for “miscellaneous in the amount of +/- $120,000 per year for five straight years? I think TNRD calls it “general and sundry.” Does the regional district even have a budget?

3. Writing names on expense account receipts is appropriate. Were all recipients named actually present for the event being expensed? Generally, the reason for the expense should also be written on the receipt. Was the TNRD credit card the only one in existence at these "working" functions?

4. Most people referred to on the backs of receipts were travelling on expense accounts or per diem allowances. However, some of their expenses were paid on a TNRD credit card. Did they claim expenses for those meals and/or drinks, etc.? Is this situation wide open for double-dipping?

5. Is it not a questionable practice to conduct business while consuming alcoholic beverages in any quantity? Liquor is involved in many of these credit card purchases.

6. Some of these travel or entertainment expenditures seem high. Maybe these excessive amounts are actually taxable benefits? Would these amounts appear on someone's T-4 slip?

7. Overtime pay for a manager? High-level managers do not work by the clock. They are paid a little extra to compensate for any additional/unforeseen demands on their time. How much time was involved? Apparently $117,000 worth for one person.

8. Gifts for employees and directors of up to almost $1000? A jewelry store purchase of $1,119.44, with no receipt? Coffee and gift cards, with little documentation, were purchased for whose use? A Fitbit charger and two backpacks purchased, but for whose use? These might be taxable benefits depending on who received these items.

9. Board chair Ken Gillis said the board didn't know the extent of the "somewhat distressing" and "excessive" spending. Isn't it the board’s responsibility be to safeguard the expenditure of public money? Maybe an auditor should have flagged some of the questionable claims. The board of directors is a huge part of this debacle, as are others on any publicly funded payroll.

10. An amusing reply from Gillis to the query, "Did the board turn a blind eye to these seemingly outrageous expenses?" His answer, "I don't think that would be accurate to say …” What is accurate? Board members' names are on the back of many of the receipts. Like maybe they weren't even there?

The credit card spreadsheet created by KTW throws up hundreds of questions that need answering. I am a taxpayer. Sadly, many former and current employees will be painted with the same brush as those implicated in the articles.

This story has not ended.

We've reached the big leagues in terms of questionable spending of public money, joining Sen. Mike Duffy's expense claims, the We charity issues, the Governor General's perceived careless spending, the infamous log splitter and a car load of liquor linked to the Speaker’s office at the B.C. legislature.

Bob Reid

Kamloops

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