Councillor in Toronto suburb bought clubs, shoes, a bag and putter, which he said were needed to play in charity tournaments and as essential to his work as a “computer and BlackBerry.” By purchasing instead of renting, he was saving taxpayers money, he said. The mayor approved the purchase.
A city councillor in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hills claimed $1,181.29 (Canadian) in golf equipment as a job expense and said it was to save taxpayers’ money, the Toronto News reports.
Councillor Carmine Perrelli bought clubs, shoes, a bag and a putter at the city’s expense over the summer, after he began receiving invitations to charity golf tournaments in the spring. Because he didn’t own equipment (his sport of choice is shooting handguns), Perrilli would rent it, for $25 to $45 per tournament.
“Turns out in the long run, it would be more efficient to purchase the golf clubs on behalf of the town than rent them,” said Perrelli.
“The golf clubs have always been intended to be town property, just like my computer and BlackBerry.”
Perrelli’s expenses came to light after a Freedom of Information request made by The Liberal, a local paper.
The 50-year-old rookie councilor, who has worked as a pedorthist (a kind of foot doctor), landlord and real estate agent, was elected in 2010 on a platform of “transparency, accountability and efficiency.”
Perrelli pitched the idea of purchasing his own golf outfit to Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow last June, at the annual Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament.
The mayor agreed that buying clubs would be cheaper than renting, and on July 5, Perrelli went to Golf Town in Aurora and bought “excellent clubs at half price.”
For him, the equipment is a town asset — an opportunity to meet face to face with constituents.
“I was told it’s a good opportunity to network,” he said.
The clubs served him well. In August, he sank a hole-in-one at the Alzheimer Society of York Region golf classic, winning a two-year lease — worth some $23,000 — from a Toronto-based Lexus dealership. He plans to donate the prize, which he’ll receive in cash, to local charities.
The mayor said the Richmond Hills council will look into the issue of appropriate expenses later this fall.
“Nothing in our expense thing says he can’t (buy clubs), nothing says he can,” Barrow said. “Our rules are a little more loosey-goosey than a staff person’s.”
Another Richmond Hills Councillor, Lynn Foster, said she wants Perrelli to repay the money. “I hope he’ll realize it’s inappropriate,” Foster said.