City of Calgary employee expenses totalled about $4.5 million in 2017, according to an employee expense audit presented to city council on Wednesday.
The figure takes into consideration expenses incurred by employees and contractors while conducting city business, such as out-of-town travel, courses, memberships, parking and car allowances.
Employee expenses decreased by 18 per cent in 2016 and 12 per cent in 2017. The change was attributed largely to a reduction in out-of-town travel, conferences, and training and staff development. Staff levels remained consistent, the report stated.
As of May, the city employed more than 13,000 full-time and part-time staff. More than 60 per cent of full-time employees earned between $50,000 and $100,000 annually. City employees are also provided benefit coverage under the Municipal Employees Benefit Association of Calgary program. That includes life and disability, as well as health and dental coverage for employees and dependents.
The audit was conducted to assess employee compliance with city polices and values. It analyzed a sample of high-value transactions reimbursed between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 31, 2017. The value of the 64 transactions used in the survey totalled $90,441. Meals, taxi fares, accommodations and petty cash claims were among the transactions.
The audit concluded that employee compliance was not an issue, but it did make two recommendations to improve efficiency and transparency in dealing with business-related expenses.
First, the report recommended improving guidelines surrounding the use of personal vehicles for business use. This would ensure that employees have appropriate insurance, a valid driver’s licence and a personal vehicle that’s mechanically fit for business use.
Second, the report suggested a cost-saving measure of replacing the manual process of submitting reimbursement claims with an automated expense module. The stated objective is to improve efficiency by reducing processing times and coding errors.
According to the city, although the corporate credit card is the preferred method of payment, employees can be reimbursed for cash purchases, milage claims and other miscellaneous expenses.
Kristen Spruit is a Calgary-based Troy Media business reporter.