Denzil Minnan-Wong now serving as bean counter–in–chief and lead gravy hunter for the Rob Ford administration

Denzil Minnan-Wong now serving as bean counter–in–chief and lead gravy hunter for the Rob Ford administration

Bean counter and gravy hunter extraordinaire (Image: Christopher Drost)

Thanks to a freedom of information query put forward by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who requested “the 25 highest mileage claims in each of the 34 municipal departments,” we now know that city staffers racked up more than $1.4 million in mileage last year. It’s the second time this week that Minnan-Wong has made news with a FOI request, and the second time he’s made such a request in service of finding gravy (the first was a request to find the city’s biggest overtime earners).

The National Post has the details:

Some of the smaller areas processed just a handful of claims, but most spent thousands of dollars on mileage. Public health, technical services and transportation services had among the highest totals, while pension, payroll and employee benefits and fleet services had the lowest.

City staff were reimbursed 52¢ a kilometre for mileage in 2010, substantially higher than the provincial rate, which is 40¢ a kilometre in Southern Ontario for the first 4,000 kilometres, and drops on a sliding scale.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Sun reported Minnan-Wong’s discovery that the city’s top overtime earners made a combined $7 million in 2010. Later, Mayor Rob Ford told councillors they could “look at today’s front page of the Sun and you’ll find out where there is a lot of gravy.” But gravy or not, these figures don’t go a long way in terms of filling the budget shortfall that Ford insists can be filled through cost cutting. Furthermore, because city employees will continue to make at least some overtime pay and get reimbursed for mileage, these kinds of spending can only be reduced, not completely eliminated.

Of course, a skilled politician might instead use these numbers as proof of the need for a culture change at city hall, rather than evidence of massive waste. Minnan-Wong does make the simple suggestion that money could be saved on mileage by making better use of the city’s hybrid cars. But Ford will likely hail the mileage numbers as further proof that all the city’s problems can be solved through cuts, even if $1.4 million isn’t a very big chunk of $774 million.

City Hall goes into overtime [Toronto Sun]
Mayor Ford says he found gravy [Toronto Sun]
City employees billed more than $1.4M in mileage last year: Minnan-Wong [National Post]