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TTC votes to send Giambrone the bill for blown budget

Adam Giambrone announced that he will no longer be running for mayor of Toronto at a press conference Feb. 10/2010. The former mayoral candidate also apologized to his partner and supporters for his indiscretions

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Former TTC chair Adam Giambrone will be getting a bill in the mail asking that he pay back the more than $3,300 by which he overspent his $125,000 budget last year.

The Toronto Transit Commission voted Tuesday to send Mr. Giambrone the tab.

Commissioners also asked for a full accounting of the "remuneration and expenses" of TTC board members between 2003 and 2009, the results of which are expected to be made public next month.

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Earlier in the day, Mr. Giambrone slammed as "politically driven" the transit agency's move to make him pay back the money.

"I'm not in Toronto and do not expect to have further comment … on the politically driven decision by elected officials on the Board of the Commission," Mr. Giambrone said by e-mail.

"You'll note that it is not TTC staff, but politicians suggesting this. Expenses included salaries for staff and TTC approved expenses."

Mr. Giambrone didn't answer a question about whether he intends to reimburse the transit agency in his message, which came from his old City of Toronto e-mail account. His signature still says he is chair of the TTC and councillor for Ward 18, despite his not standing for re-election last fall after lying about an affair.

TTC staff were already "in discussions" with Mr. Giambrone about collecting the money before Tuesday's vote, said Brad Ross, spokesman for the TTC.

Mr. Giambrone's spending habits landed on the agenda of the TTC's regular meeting Tuesday after Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a new member of the board, requested a list of the former chair's office and travel expenses back in December.

Mr. Giambrone expensed $128,344.92 as TTC chair in 2010, including $36,982.64 for a glossy farewell report and a three-minute video trumpeting the transit agency's accomplishments during his tenure.

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Last fall he pegged the cost of his swan-song report and video at about $15,000.

Mr. Giambrone also spent $71,917 on staff dedicated to TTC matters; $9,152.19 on voice and data communications; and $2,891.75 on "ground transportation," according to a Feb. 23 memo from TTC chief general manager Gary Webster.

Mr. Giambrone had three different pots from which to draw money: The $125,000 TTC budget he overspent; his $50,445 councillor budget; and a separate budget for TTC corporate travel.

He spent $7,159.83 travelling to four conferences in 2010, including $2,871.83 on the American Public Transportation Association annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, three weeks before the Oct. 25 election.

Those trips were expensed to the TTC corporate travel account. He also expensed flights to transit conferences in Austria, Spain and Brazil to his council office budget, according to a third-quarter expense report posted online.

Karen Stintz, the new chair of the TTC, said there was no political motivation for putting Mr. Giambrone's spending under the microscope.

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"The expenses would have been accounted for as part of a regular review and submitted to the city. So the TTC staff would have identified the overage as part of the normal course of business," she said. "What Councillor Minnan-Wong's motion did was expedite that review and bring it forward to the commission."

Ms. Stintz said the chair's budget for 2011 has already been reduced to $100,000. As for travel, she has no plans to attend out-of-town conferences or meetings this year or next.

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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