HomeLetters to the Editor

Intent of ‘slush fund’ rules not honoured

By: Letter to the Editor

 | Mar 03, 2014 - 3:50 PM |
In December 2012, city council passed by-law 2012-258, regarding the Healthy Community Initiative Fund Policy. The HCI Fund has become better known as slush funds.

The bylaw sub-section 8.0 deals reads in part “the following expenses by an individual member of council are deemed ineligible if they were incurred after June 30th of an election year.”

The bylaw specifies the ineligible expenses to be grants, donations, community event expenses, gifts and promotions.

At this week’s council meeting, council passed a Slush Fund donation for the Donovan Family Day, scheduled for Aug. 16.

I wish to emphasize I am not against any donation for Donovan Family Day itself, but I wish to express my concern of slush funds as outlined below.

Given that the expense of the event (Donovan Family Day) will actually be “incurred” after June 30, it appears this expense is prohibited by the bylaw.

The expense for this seemingly annual very same donation was expensed on July 15, 2013, and July 30, 2012. In my opinion, it is obvious Coun. Dutrisac sought to expense this donation some five months earlier this year simply to circumvent the election year June 30 restriction.

I believe this request by the councillor is a contravention of both the intent and the actual wording of the bylaw.

Some may say that an expense is “incurred” when the cheque is issued by the city and not “incurred” the date of the event. Though this subject donation was approved by council some six months prior to the actual event and given it is “incurred” prior to the election year restriction date of June 30, it is apparently eligible. If so, what prevents a councillor from having a donation approved today from their slush fund for an event scheduled some time in 2015, when the councillor may not even be on council any longer?

The bylaw election year restrictions were put in place to prevent incumbent councillor abuse, and I believe this is just another example of council doing as they see fit to further their own personal agendas, with disregard for the established rules.

To my knowledge, this appears to be the first test of the adherence of the “election year” segment of the bylaw, and council failed yet again to adhere to live within the prescribed rules.

Given this latest abuse of the rules, the only way to ensure future adherence to the slush fund bylaw is to eliminate the very existence of slush funds.

Worthy community projects can be funded without any councillors’ influence and discretion whatsoever. What do you the taxpayers think?

Bernie Beland
Greater Sudbury

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