MLAs’ constituency office bills online in fall

Marc Dalton, Doug Bing reveal travel and living expenses.

Taxpayers who want to know the nickels and dimes being spent in the offices of their elected representatives will be able to pour over the bills for wining and dining, including the cost of orange juice, by fall.

The step will be another done by the legislative assembly management committee to expand disclosure reports by MLAs.

Their expenses and salaries are already online, with itemized expenses incurred at MLA offices following in the fall. The public will be able to check the receipts and invoices individually.

“We’re making a lot of progress and I think we’re pretty much there,” Dalton said Monday. “I think it’s a positive move. I’m fully supportive of it. Just bring all the details.”

For now, however, MLA office expenses are  posted quarterly without individual breakdowns.

Dalton’s office on Dewdney Trunk Road in the first three months of this year, spent a total of $20,654, compared to Bing’s newly opened office on Lougheed Highway, which spent $27,729 in the same three months.

The yearly maximum for an MLA’s office is $119,000.

As for salaries, the experienced Dalton, who’s parliamentary secretary for independent schools and who also serves on a committee, earned $118,938 between April 1, last year and March 31 this year.

Dalton is also on the Cabinet Committee on Secure Tomorrow. Previously, he was on the Families First Cabinet Committee and the Selected Standing Committees for Education and Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. He also served on the Freedom of Information and Privacy and the Children and Youth Select Standing Committees.

Bing, elected last May, earned $89,859, having served only part of the year as an MLA. The base salary of an MLA is $101,859. Parliamentary secretaries earn another $15,278 per year.

As for travelling and living expenses that MLAs wrack up over the course of their duties, Bing spent a total of $19,810 in the same fiscal period.

That included accommodation expenses of $7,535 and general travel costs of $6,442, as well as $760 spent on those who accompanied the MLA to Victoria.

Since he was elected in May 2013, Bing has made four trips to Victoria, bringing his wife on occasion, but more often constituency assistants.

“I think she came over once during the inauguration [last June] and I think that was about it,” he said last week.

MLAs have two ways of receiving housing allowances given to defray costs for MLAs from outside Victoria.

They can either submit invoices and records for their rental or mortgage costs and receive a maximum of $19,000 a year, or they can be paid a flat $1,000 a month with no receipts required. Bing has opted to buy a condo, so he doesn’t have to live out of a hotel room.

Dalton, however, after trying various types of accommodation, has opted for the flat $1,000 capital city allowance, with no receipts required, which he says is the least expensive for taxpayers.

Though he served a full year, Dalton’s general travel costs at $13,275 are double Bing’s amount of $6,442.

Dalton, however, is parliamentary secretary and serves on two committees.

Dalton also had nine trips in the past year on which he brought an accompanying person and claimed expenses totalling $3,568. MLAs are allowed 12 such trips per year.

Dalton didn’t have the break down of who he claimed for how many trips, but said his wife accompanies him to most of his trips to Victoria.

However, he said he rarely claims her expenses.

“I only claimed a fraction of them. I’ve actually gone years without claiming her.”