St. Albert’s MLAs kept expenses to a minimum during their first few months in office, records show.
Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne’s publicly available expenses for April 1 to June 30 and July 1 to Sept. 30 show the rookie legislator has only claimed $33.59 in fuel and minor maintenance. He was elected in early May.
Horne said he’s also got a hotel claim pending for that time period, but that’s it.
“Part of it is I figured I don’t have to claim too much mileage with the vehicle I was driving,” he said. “I was getting amazing mileage.”
He also plans to replace the vehicle soon, so he didn’t want to charge the by-the-kilometre rate, which includes some extra for maintenance, when travelling in the constituency. He didn’t see the point in asking taxpayers to help pay for repairs to a car he’s planning on replacing.
There’s also an advantage in being an MLA with a constituency close to Edmonton and the legislature, he said.
“Being local most of my meetings were either in the constituency or in Edmonton so I didn’t have too much travel that I had to do, with the exception of a couple trips,” he said. There’s been a trip to Red Deer and a trip Calgary.
He added his constituency office operating budget has been kept low, with some savings coming in the form of leftover stationery from his predecessor.
St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud might also be new to her job, but she’s no stranger to trying to save money on expenses.
She said her experience in non-profit trained her to personally pay for what she’s able to cover herself.
“It’s a habit that we were always quite careful about what we spent,” she said.
Her expenses during the April 1 to June 30, 2015 period were a mere $35.22 in gas, according the publicly available summary.
Her July 1 to Sept. 30 expenses were higher, with $467.42 in fuel, $85.71 in parking and $28.52 in some travel expenses, but she still didn’t claim any constituency travel kilometres or other expenses.
“I think just given the situation in Alberta and the economy, things are tough for everybody right now, so it just seems to me that it was important to not expense things I was able to cover myself,” Renaud said. She’s been covering things like meals for the most part out of her own pocket. She has done some travel where she’ll claim the hotel costs, though, but figures she would have eaten anyway.
“I think the premier’s been really clear about just watching all of the funds that we’re entrusted with, so I’m just doing my part,” she said. Like Horne, she said there’s an active attempt to be careful with the constituency office budget as well.
When it comes to looking ahead to 2016, Horne said he got a low number in the draw for presenting private member’s bills, so he’s got no plans on that front yet.
“Both Spruce Grove and St. Albert have growing populations and young populations, so I’m keeping an eye on the school situation. There’s a couple infrastructure projects I’m looking at hoping to move forward in the next few months,” Horne said.
Renaud has started off 2016 busy, with just a couple of months left to conclude the Persons with Developmental Disabilities consultations she’s a part of.
Aware she was critical of the past government’s consultations on regulations for PDD in the past, she’s been reviewing what has worked and what hasn’t.
With the troubled economy, she’s been having a number of St. Albertans reaching out with what she described as pressing issues.
“I imagine that’s not going to sort of trend downwards anytime soon,” Renaud said.