City manager wants stricter limits on employee expenses

Chief administrative officer Tracy Samra has directed staff to update employee expense policies

The City of Nanaimo is looking at ways of limiting employee expenses.

The municipality released a statement late Friday afternoon advising that chief administrative officer Tracy Samra has asked staff to update employee expense policies.

In the statement, Samra said Nanaimo’s policies have not been revised for more than 10 years, are “out of sync with public service standards” and need to be reviewed.

The statement noted that Samra has asked mayor and council to endorse her recommendation to set annual expense limits for staff for training, conferences and the like.

The statement went on to point out that Samra’s annual hospitality expenses are “consistently lower than other city CAOs and GMs” and she said that while she attended federal, provincial and local municipal conferences to learn and network, she intends to attend only the Union of B.C. Municipalities conferences from now on.

“Allegations that city staff have overspent or charged taxpayers for non-eligible expenses are unfounded,” the statement reads. “The city has appropriate internal controls in place to review and approve claims.”

The policies that will be updated relate to petty cash, alcohol expenditures, travel guidelines, travel expense advances and the company credit card.

“I have been advocating for years that spending by city staff on city business be more closely regulated,” said Coun. Jerry Hong in the statement. “I am glad to hear our CAO is taking steps to address my concerns and those of the public.”

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