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Rob Ford sets crosshairs on Toronto city councillors’ expenses

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford pauses before a Toronto Mayoral election debate in Toronto, March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

Rob Ford says he is "livid" about the expense accounts of some city councillors and is vowing to make it an election issue.

Mr. Ford called an impromptu news conference late Monday, emerging from his office with a chart of councillors' spending for 2013. Annual office budgets were cut to $30,000 after Mr. Ford became mayor, but council later passed rule changes that allow councillors to charge spending for items such as constituency offices and annual newsletters to a "general expense" budget. The result is that some councillors, such as Anthony Perruzza and Giorgio Mammoliti – members of the mayor's executive committee – more than doubled their spending.

Mr. Perruzza spent $79,673 last year – $51,232 from general expenses and $28,441 from his office budget. Mr. Mammoliti spent $68,837 – $44,898 from general expenses and $23,939 from his office budget – according to city records released on Monday.

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Other councillors spent less, particularly those without a constituency office, such as Peter Milczyn and Frances Nunziata, who spent about $1,000 each from general expenses in addition to their office budget expenses, which were $9,889 and $3,658 respectively.

"I am livid," Mr. Ford said. The mayor said he doesn't understand how councillors can do "the exact same job" and have expenses that differ by tens of thousands of dollars. "Going into an election, they are going to have to answer to the taxpayers because I am not letting this go."

The mayor had about $19,000 in office expenses and no general expenses.

Norm Kelly spent more than $23,000 from the deputy mayor's office budget in less than two months after he was given most of Mr. Ford's authority in November. That was in addition to the budget for his councillor's office.

Councillor Karen Stintz, one of Mr. Ford's rivals for mayor, said Mr. Ford is "playing politics" with the issue. "There is an election coming up and he is looking for another reason to continue his fight-the-gravy train [campaign]," she said.

Ms. Stintz filed $27,198 in office expenses and $4,334 in general expenses, and said she used the money to serve her constituents.

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