Catering, dry cleaning payments higher in Victoria

Analysis of expenditures shows difference in approach between municipalities

Victoria is paying more for certain services than its neighbours.

In 2011, the city paid a total of $82,924 to QV Cafe and Bakery and Truffles Catering Group, according to Victoria’s latest public bodies expenditures report. The document lists all accounts paid in excess of $25,000.

Of the catering expenses, $29,000 was spent to provide 4,000 meals to people detained in police jail cells. The remainder was spent on catering municipal and police meetings such as public advisory committee meetings, or events where the city hosts dignitaries.

Expect Victoria’s catering expenses to be lower in 2012.

“It’s going to be going down,” said Coun. Geoff Young. City council already voted to give up its lunches provided during meetings.

In Saanich, the approach to meetings is more low-key, said finance director Paul Murray.

“I’m pretty darn sure we would be nowhere near that sort of (expenditure),” he said. “Quite often (meetings) will have coffee, but we’ll make the coffee ourself.”

While staff might buy cookies or fruit for some meetings, “it’s rare that we’d have something catered,” he said.

While Victoria still provides food at public advisory committee meetings, that could be next on the chopping block, as council focuses on budget reductions over the coming months.

Dry cleaning for police uniforms is also more generous in Victoria.

Last year, the city paid $81,651 to Individual Drycleaners, mostly for cleaning police uniforms. Calculated as an average expenditure per officer (including members and reserves), it comes to $269 last year.

In Saanich, the police department spends approximately $155 per officer, paid as a taxable benefit.

The RCMP operates differently. Rather than centralizing dry cleaning to one company, it gives officers a dry-cleaning allowance of $5 every two weeks, which comes to about $130 annually. It’s not a perfect comparison, however, as some specialized units receive more and additional dry cleaning may be available in special circumstances.

Victoria police spokesperson Mike Russell defended his department’s extra expense.

“For less than a dollar a day, I don’t have to throw any clothes in my home washing machine with people’s urine or barf on it, that doesn’t go in with my kids’ (laundry) – we’re pretty sure that’s a good investment,” he said.

The Victoria department deals with downtown issues, such as more frequent fights and intoxicated people.

“Those are all things that come onto our clothes, that we come into contact with on a daily basis,” Russell said.

Victoria isn’t the most generous force in B.C. when it comes to uniform cleaning.

The Vancouver police department pays for both dry cleaning and laundering. Its $556,800 budget comes to roughly $427 per officer.

While some forces have moved to what’s called wash-and-wear uniforms that don’t require dry cleaning. It’s an idea the Saanich police have investigated, but rejected. The clothes don’t last as long when washed, so the cost of dry cleaning is made up for in the longevity of the uniforms, said spokesperson Sgt. Dean Jantzen.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Police seek potential victims of bad ‘nanny’

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Oak Bay firefighters help fund new Monterey playground

Sausage Fest cash handed over to Monterey PAC

Alcohol and drugs ruled out in serious crash that closed Sooke Rd last week

All three drivers taken to hospital have since been released

Only tent city residents allowed access at Goldstream Park campsites

Local RCMP point to reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area as cause for safety concerns

Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Langford residents opposed to campers voice concerns at campground gate

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read