Removed councillor Jim Karygiannis not entitled to severance

by on 16 November 2019

Former city councillor Jim Karygiannis — removed from office over election expense violations — will not be entitled to severance, city officials confirmed Thursday.

According to Chapter 223 of the Toronto Municipal Code, the politician is not eligible for a cash kissoff because his seat became vacant “by reason of the operation of any Act of … the legislature of the province of Ontario.”

Late Wednesday, city clerk Ulli Watkiss issued a statement indicating the Scarborough-Agincourt councillor had exceeded the prescribed expense limit for “parties and other expressions of appreciation” by $25,962.70 in the 2018 municipal election and the Act does not give the city clerk any choice but to declare the seat vacant.

Karygiannis is also disqualified from being elected or appointed to any office until after the next election.

According to the formula set out in the Municipal Elections Act, Karygiannis was permitted to spend $61,207.95, of which only 10% of that, or $6,128, could be used for parties and thank-you events.

But his own audited statement indicated the long-time Liberal — who was in a tight race against Norm Kelly — spent $32,083.00 on thank-you parties.

The questionable expenses, first revealed by the Toronto Sun in May, showed that he raised $320,000 from donors and fundraising events and spent $219,000 — declaring $147,645 of that as not subject to the spending limit.

The largest expenditure was $81,000 in honoraria for assorted Liberal friends and staff.

Karygiannis — who has been fighting two orders since July to have his expenses subjected to a compliance audit — remained steadfast Thursday that this is simply about a “clerical error” done while completing the Supplementary Financial statement.

“I look forward to continuing my work as City of Toronto councillor for Ward 22 and serving the people of Scarborough-Agincourt,” he reiterated. 

The compliance audits had been put on hold when he appealed the ruling to the Ontario Superior Court on constitutional grounds. A court date was set for next February.

Watkiss said Karygiannis is disqualified from being elected or appointed to any office until after the next election.

Had his seat not been found vacant and Karygiannis had just resigned, for example, he would have been eligible for nearly $50,000 in severance based on a yearly salary of $117,163.

Sue-Ann Levy –