UPDATE: Changes to the RH Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive. What is up with that?

At the December 18th Council meeting Council voted to refer this motion to the Commissioner of Corporate and Financial Services to review and provide recommendations.

At the upcoming RH Council Meeting on December 18th Councillor Beros is bringing forward a motion to make some changes to the RH Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive to fall more in line with the provincial travel, meal and hospitality expense policy.

In some cases the Beros motion does not align fully with certain sections of the provincial directive thereby leaving out some key points of the directive which should be included in the RH changes.

Suggested changes include:

Remove the allowance of any donations to charitable organizations/events.

This could mean a significant impact to many local charities. Over $14,000 has been donated by Councillors in the first 6 months of the year to various charitable organizations/events.

Allow appropriate token gifts of appreciation, valued up to $30, that may be offered in exchange for gifts of service or expertise to people who are not engaged in work for the City of Richmond Hill.

This could open the door to Councillors using taxpayer dollars to purchase self promoting merchandise i.e. image based marketing “gifts”.

This also contradicts the current policy which states that “all costs associated with gifts and promotions are ineligible expenses”. RH Communications has readily available to Council an assortment of RH logo promotional items and gifts so why are other token gifts of appreciation required?

Meal allowance rates to be changed to $10.00 for breakfast, $12.50 for lunch and $22.50 for dinner per person.

This is in line with the provincial directive however it does not go far enough. The provincial directive (6.1 & 6.2) includes the following:

6.1 Reasonable and appropriate meal expenses may be reimbursed. You may incur a meal expense when you are on government business and you:

are away from the office area (i.e., at least 24 km) over a normal meal period (i.e. lunches/dinners in Oak Ridges would no longer be eligible)

have prior approval for the expense (e.g., a business meeting within the office area that must occur over lunch (i.e. lunches/dinners at the local Keg with RH staff would not be eligible unless prior approval is received)

6.2 Centrally Purchased Meals (Catered)

For meals that are centrally purchased (e.g. catering for a working meeting), the maximum amount spent per person should not exceed the established meal allowance rate. As with all corporate purchase card transactions, receipts and appropriate approvals are required. (This inclusion will ensure that catering remains within the meal allowance)

When an individual pays the meal expenses for a group of individuals, the individuals are reimbursed for the total of all meals purchased at the allowance rate for that meal per person.

The provincial directive reads “Where an individual pays the meal expenses for a group of individuals. In such cases, the individual may be reimbursed for the total of all meals purchased at the allowance rate for that meal.”

Furthermore, the provincial directive states “Group meal expenses can be claimed only:

for individuals covered by this Directive. (this is key because that means that reimbursement will only be made for OPS employee meal expenses unlike the Beros motion which would open the door to many more meetings which could include everyone internal or external to RH albeit within the meal allowance guidelines)

Reimbursement for expenses related to office social events (eg. retirement parties, holiday lunches, etc.) will not be permitted.

At the link below you will find the Dec 18 Council Meeting Agenda, the Beros motion, the RH expense directive and the provincial expense directive.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1V-3swPpkH4KxN6EvAa3DrOIQ9X6LyYNU?usp=sharing

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