October 28, 2011
Mayor Rob Ford has outsourced the printing of business cards for himself and his staff to his family’s printing company, billing taxpayers up to four times as much per card as councillors who have them printed by the city.
Expense records released Friday include an Aug. 29 invoice from Deco Label & Tags for $1,579.15, including HST, for 20,600 cards for Ford and his staff.
The cost is 7 cents each for the first 15,000 cards and 6.205 cents for the next 5,600. The city processed payment Sept. 23.
Ford is known both for being a fierce critic of free spending and for handing out his card almost robotically when in public. The ones used by him and his staff include gold lettering on “Toronto” and the city logo, and slightly raised letters and numbers. There’s a map of the city on the back.
The city’s standard card, with flat blue letters on a white background, costs 3.644 cents when ordered from the city printer. Councillors can pay more from their office budgets for fancy features. A card with a photo costs a nickel.
But councillors who order in bulk get a cut rate. Councillor Josh Matlow, for example, paid only 1.65 cents each for 3,000 basic cards he ordered last December.
Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul’s) has concerns both with Ford paying extra for office supplies, and also for buying them from a company he partly owns.
“I think that at a time of budget restraints we need to be efficient in how we run our offices, including our business cards, and we should seek the least costly cards we can buy,” Matlow said. “I believe the mayor has to be consistent in his demand for efficiencies, whether from city departments, councillors’ office budgets or his own.
“I also wonder if the mayor shares my concerns about a perceived conflict of interest in buying cards from his family’s company.”
Under the expense policy, councillors don’t have to use the city’s printing facilities. They can pick an outside printer and there doesn’t appear to be anything in the rules specifically barring someone from going with a firm in which they have an interest.
The city’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, said she couldn’t comment because it’s possible she may be asked to look into the situation.
Cutting councillors’ office budgets was a key plank in Ford’s election platform. He succeeded getting councillors to cut their budgets from $50,445 to $30,000, and the mayor’s office budget from $2.56 million to $2.01 million.
Ford’s office did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.
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