This letter from Danny Coccimiglio was submitted as a response to the recent article regarding the gas prices associated with councillors and other city staff travelling to out of town events.
The city treasurer and chief financial officer, Shelley Schell, stated that due to the dramatic increase in gas prices that the mileage rate of 56 cents per kilometre should be applied to all trips of 250 km or less made in personal vehicles.
The article also stated that the costs of trips that were greater than 250 km would increase. It was also stated that the current model did not take into account the reimbursement of other personal vehicle costs associated with travel, although these personal vehicle costs were not elaborated upon.
Paying 56 cents per kilometre, a round trip from Sault Ste. Marie to downtown Toronto (a distance of approximately 1400 km) would cost $784 in gas reimbursement and a return trip to and from Blind River would cost over $160 in gas reimbursement before calculating the extra cost associated for travelling within the area, such as the extra kilometres travelled for food. This also does not take into account any extra or personal business that is conducted on these trips.
It is my belief that conferences and conventions that city staff need to travel for are useful and valid if they truly have a useful impact on the constituents of the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Due to the increased costs of travel it would be logical and responsible to determine if the value of such trips and their usefulness is worth the increased financial cost to the people of Sault Ste. Marie.
It would also be useful for city staff to examine the process currently in place for tracking kilometre usage in personal vehicles to ensure any unnecessary costs are not being reimbursed.
Being that it was stated that all city departments will manage this change within their existing budgets, it is logical to think that these budgets will need to increase in the future due to increased costs.
The increase in costs will, ultimately, fall to the citizens of the city through either increased taxes or the lack of participation in useful professional development opportunities due to the costs associated with them.