Audit says Brampton mayor, staff broke expense rules nearly 260 times
Watch above: Laura Zilke explains why city council asked the police to investigate the audit of the mayor’s expenses.
TORONTO – Brampton city council has voted to ask for a police investigation after a four-month forensic audit looking into Mayor Susan Fennell’s expenses reveals she breached city rules hundreds of times on high-cost airfare, hotel rooms, corporate expenses and dozens of cellphone IQ quizzes during her term in office.
The audit, conducted by Deloitte Canada and released Tuesday evening, was ordered last year after media reports showed Fennell exceeded city spending rules. It also included an examination of city councillor expenses.
In total, the audit showed Fennell racked up $172,608 in expenses, which breached the city’s policies. However, $41,027 of that was repaid.
The report also made mention of how the mayor purchased “Latitude” flight passes from Air Canada instead of buying the economy rate, which totaled $70,615 from 2007 to 2011.
READ MORE: Full Deloitte Canada forensic audit
“According to Mayor Fennell, flight passes were purchases as they represented the best fare available for their travel requirements and provided the required flexibility,” the report stated.
“We found the cost of flight passes used by the Mayor and the Mayor’s staff to exceed the economy airfare rate contrary to the 2007 and 2011 Travel Policy and the 2011 Expense policy.”
The report also noted there was a further $156,000 in spending, but didn’t have enough information to determine whether the spending broke any rules. Some of the questionable spending included $45,000 for an on-call limousine service.
Other items that were mentioned include personal expenses such as monthly bills of up to $1,156 for international telephone calls. There was an additional $220 in cellphone charges for 44 IQ quizzes, though Fennell told the auditors the wireless company would credit her for the quizzes.
However, the audit cleared Fennell on using staff for private fundraising events during business hours since 2010.
The Brampton mayor released a statement on the report Tuesday evening saying she accepts much of the report – but not all of it.
“I accept responsibility for all that I do as mayor of Brampton, positive and less positive,” she wrote in a statement Tuesday.
“If there are changes that need to be made, I will make them. And I will work with my colleagues on council to ensure that they, too, accept responsibility for their shortcomings.”
Fennell pledged to make the necessary changes to correct her actions. She is running for re-election in the October 27 municipal election.
- With files from The Canadian Press