Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fildebrandt said the rental is completely above-board and complies with the rules. Interim UCP caucus deputy leader Mike Ellis said in a brief statement his caucus is carefully reviewing the matter. “While it has been explained to be an approved LAO activity, we take fiscal responsibility seriously,” Ellis said. Although he said he’s done nothing wrong, Fildebrandt accused former Wildrose leader Brian Jean’s “backroom operators” of “personal smears” over the apartment on the day after he was critical of his former boss.

#EndTheHousingAllowanceForPoliticians!--Would be best to expect the politicians to pay for the housing themselves as contracted workers in the private sector have to do. Why are we paying for the public contract workers of the MLAs? Is it all about the MLAs making the rules to benefit themselves?
If we must give a housing allowance (forced to) then let us give it to them as an income which is taxable.

http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/finance-critic-derek-fildebrandt-rents-downtown-digs-on-airbnb-while-claiming-housing-allowance/wcm/a8231905-c062-4906-ada8-3902f9f2f272


Finance critic Derek Fildebrandt rents downtown digs on Airbnb while claiming housing allowance

On Thursday morning, Fildebrandt issued a statement offering to donate his Airbnb earnings of $2,555 to help pay down provincial debt.

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Emma Graney
Emma Graney
August 10, 2017
7:57 PM EDT
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A United Conservative Party MLA says there’s nothing wrong with him subletting his downtown Edmonton apartment while claiming thousands of dollars in rent from the public purse.
Derek Fildebrandt, MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, advertises his downtown bachelor suite for rent online as “newly renovated, modernly furnished and very well-kept.”
“It has a sweeping view of the city and is in the thick of the action on Jasper Ave.,” the Airbnb listing says.
Between January and March, eight Airbnb renters reviewed the apartment. Over the same three months, Fildebrandt claimed $7,720 for accommodation in Edmonton.
Fildebrandt denies he’s double-dipping by renting out the same apartment for which he claims an allowance on the taxpayers’ dime.
“Find someone under 35 with a downtown apartment that doesn’t let their apartment if they’re gone half the year,” he told the Journal.
After all, he said, “it’s the 21st century.”
“It would be a waste … to have an apartment that sits empty half of the year and not let it out when I’m gone out of session,” he said.  
Fildebrandt, one of the UCP’s two finance critics, said he puts the extra cash toward rent, cleaning and maintenance.
“Some MLAs rent, some MLAs let a hotel room, some MLAs buy a place and put (their allowance) toward the mortgage,” he said, and there’s no difference between those arrangements.

DONATING PROFITS

On Thursday morning, Fildebrandt issued a statement offering to donate his Airbnb earnings of $2,555 to help pay down provincial debt.
The statement reads:
When I want a ride in a city, I use Uber. When I want to communicate with constituents, I use Facebook and Twitter. When I have an empty house, I use AirBnB.
I confirmed that letting out my Edmonton home while it is not being used is compliant with the rules. Everything has been open, public, and transparent.  Given that my use of the service has always been public knowledge and shared openly with my colleagues, I hope that my stance two days ago concerning the UCP Leadership race in no way influenced the timing of this story being released the following day.
Letting out an unused residence is reasonable and a part of the modern sharing economy.
I’m not interested in letting the politics of smear distract from the real issues.
Letting out my Edmonton home earned $2,555 over 8 months, or an average of $319.38 a month, and so I’m happy to donate it in full to paying down the provincial debt.
Screenshot of Derek Fildebrandt’s Airbnb rental.

EXPENSE RULES MUM ON SUBLETS

Members of the Legislative Assembly from outside the capital region are entitled to a maximum of $23,160 in a fiscal year to own or lease a property in Edmonton, or $193 per night for a hotel while in the city on official business.
That cash can go toward accommodation expenses like rent, utilities and parking, but the rules explicitly state that MLAs are only entitled to the actual costs incurred.
Expenses are paid through the Legislative Assembly Office, overseen by the Speaker.
Alex McCuaig, Speaker Robert Wanner’s chief of staff, told the Journal there is no precedent around an Airbnb sublet, but said the system is set up with the intention that members claim actual expenses, not the maximum by default.
“The bottom line is, the member needs to be answerable for their practices and justify their expenses,” McCuaig said.
Fildebrandt said the rental is completely above-board and complies with the rules.
Interim UCP caucus deputy leader Mike Ellis said in a brief statement his caucus is carefully reviewing the matter.
“While it has been explained to be an approved LAO activity, we take fiscal responsibility seriously,” Ellis said.
Although he said he’s done nothing wrong, Fildebrandt accused former Wildrose leader Brian Jean’s “backroom operators” of “personal smears” over the apartment on the day after he was critical of his former boss.
egraney@postmedia.com


Screenshot of Derek Fildebrandt’s Airbnb rental.Screenshot of reviews of Derek Fildebrandt’s Airbnb rental.
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Julie Ali · 

He wasn't breaking any rules but this is because this sort of milking the system has been going on in Alberta for decades.
I imagine other MLAs have been using the housing allowance to pay for property and selling later at a profit. In a similar way there may be other MLAs who also earn rental income in the way Mr. Fildebrandt has done.

But just because there are no regulations doesn't make the maximization of the use of the housing allowance right. I don't feel it is right. I feel the public purse is being used to generate extra income in this case.

No sort of deflection by Mr. Fildebrandt that this is an appropriate use of empty property makes me feel that this is a good practice. The NDP government needs to clarify the rules for all MLAs.

In my opinion, the housing allowance should cease. Instead out of town MLAs should be given a higher salary to compensate for the requirement to maintain two properties. Any other version of the housing allowance is open to abuse of this sort.

It is also interesting to me that private citizens who work in two communities doing contract work for example pay for their housing costs by themselves. In other words a worker in northern Alberta who may work in Edmonton as a private contractor will pay for his own housing costs in both locations. Such a worker gets no sort of housing allowance because he is a business owner. I feel that we should consider MLAa and other politicians as contractual workers and expect the same sort of requirements to pay for their own housing.
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