Nov 1, 2012 / 5:00 am
Okanagan area MLA's billed the provincial taxpayer more than $185,000 in travel expenses over a six month period from April 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012.
The figures were released Wednesday by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee.
As a group, the 85 MLA's were reimbursed more than $1.5M in travel expenses over the six month period.
Okanagan and area MLA's accounted for more than 10 per cent of that figure.
The expense report was broken into five categories:
- Capital expenses and per diem - Living expenses in Victoria plus a $61/day per diem while the legislature is sitting. (out of town MLA's)
- In-constituency travel - travel and out-of-pocket expenses within the riding
- General travel - travel out of the constituency but within the province for MLA work
- Accompanying person - MLA's are allowed up to 12 trips per fiscal year by an accompanying person (spouse, staff members/members etc)
- Speaker approved travel - Travel out of province.
In the interior, Foster claimed the most in Capital living expenses ($8,400) and per diem expenses ($2,166) while Thomson claimed nothing in either category.
In terms of general provincial travel, Bill Berisoff, Speaker of the House, expensed the most ($30,273) while Harry Lali, NDP critic for Community and Rural Development was next ($18,195 plus $1,665 in expenses. Thomson was again at the bottom end, claiming just $516 in travel.
Under accompanying persons, Stewart topped the list ($3,233) while Lali did not make a claim.
As for speaker approved travel, ironically, Speaker Barisoff topped the list ($5,648) while Stewart, Thomson, Letnick, Slater and Abbott claimed nothing.
In terms of constituency travel, provincial ridings are broken into five categories with fixed travel amounts tied to each, including urban ($1,595), semi-urban ($2,376), semi-rural ($3,157), rural ($3,563) and coastal/remote ($5,790).
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Norm Letnick, slotted in near the bottom when it comes to MLA expenses.
Letnick says he thinks most people will be open minded when looking at the figures.
"To be fair to the MLA's and the public there is a certain level of expense everyone understands are needed to travel in the province and do our jobs," says Letnick.
"I think it's wonderful the public has the opportunity to look at our expenses so people will always know the taxpayers money needs to be safeguarded and expenses are legitimate."
Letnick says he personally bills less than what he needs to.
"I would say most MLA's are like that too. We really value the public trust and take it very seriously."
Cabinet Minister, Rich Coleman had the lowest expense figure ($2,222) followed by Premier Christy Clark ($2,730).
The highest expense report was filed by Skeena NDP MLA, $53,606.
NDP leader, Adrian Dix billed the taxpayers $32,997.
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