Feature Story                                                                                                Friday, January 31, 2014

 

I'm No Crook

FVRD backs off Adamson and Bales over repayment of undocumented travel expenses

Voice staff/File photos/REVISED

 

Dennis Adamson, FVRD Director Area B listens at a meeting in July 2012. Below, he speaks at an NDP convention in January 2013.

 

fter a tumultuous few months of unprecedented scrutinizing by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) for his travel expenses, Area B director Dennis Adamson says the issue has been dropped and now he just wants his name cleared.

The FVRD has been saying that both he and Area C Director Wendy Bales had their hands in the cookie jar a bit too often and have been fudging on expense claims. But at last week's meeting the board relented.

Adamson told the Voice in a phone interview Thursday that a motion was passed at the last FVRD meeting on Tuesday to cease trying to force him to pay back $1542. Instead, they asked him "do the right thing" and just pay the money back of his own accord. Area C director Wendy Bales was also included  in that.

 

Adamson is adamant about his innocence and insists he was unjustly treated, adding that he was never asked to keep any receipts and has no intention of paying back any of the money the FVRD was asking for.

Last year, the FVRD ordered an audit of all the directors and found some discrepancies in Adamson's and Bales' expense claims. The audit indicated that in Adamson's claim of $28,546 for 35,740 kilometers there was a discrepancy of $1542 for which he had no supporting documents.

Even though the FVRD board meets bi-weekly, Adamson says it's a full-time job for him to represent an area that encompasses Yale/Dogwood Valley/Sunshine Valley/Laidlaw /Choate/Othello/Spuzzum and involves a lot of travel in order to meet with constituents.

Each month Adamson submits his expenses. The FVRD pays 52 per kilometer for the first 400 kilometers. After that, directors are on their own. But he says that's not nearly enough for the amount of running around he does and that some months his mileage is double that which then comes out of his pocket.

"In one month I put 734 kilometers on and I got paid for 400, and we kept going like that until September," he explains.

To make matters more complicated, Adamson says that last year, Yale constituents paid $7200, or about $5 a household, in extra taxes to allow for his additional travel costs that he wasn't able to tap into.

Last September, he wrote a letter to the FVRD asking for access to the $7200 funding which was later denied and he quoted staff as saying they would be refunding the money to constituents.

When Adamson went to defend his position at the meeting, he was told that it was confidential and couldn't talk about it the policy which was amended in 2007 from its 1998 formula.

"Area B put in money to that and so there was no going over anything, the money was in there and they did this audit on old data purposely to make us look bad, and then when I confronted them about this policy, they said 'Oh, that's not true' and they pulled out a personal and confidential document and released it in the paper and then put it in the agenda last night."

Despite the board passing their 2014 budget on Thursday, Adamson says there won't be any extra money in it for his travel expenses that he says he needs to do his job.

Adamson didn't say if he's going to go over the 400 kilometer limit in the future and is pessimistic about recovering the full costs if he does, but he plans to do his best to serve all the constituents in the area.

"I'm going to put that (expense claims) in, but knowing, them I'm not going to get paid," he says.
 

REVISION: Director Adamson contacted the Voice to let us know we didn't get some of the article details correct. As follows:

 

"To set the records straight, I have documents to prove that I do not owe any money-not even one cent! Director Bales also does not owe anything."


 

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