The Times Colonist applied under freedom of information legislation for copies of Mastercard statements, listing purchases adding up to $131,606, that Barry Holmes charged to his employer while he was CEO of the taxpayer-supported Greater Victoria Public Library.
Among the purchases made over Holmes' 3 1 in Victoria are: /2 years
? Groceries: $1,500 from Thrifty Foods and Canada Safeway.
? Downloads: $1,529.32 from HMV and iTunes during November and December 2009. Another notable purchase was $356 from HMV on March 11, 2010.
? Flowers: Seven purchases from Victoria florists adding up to $320.83.
? Skin-care products: $500 billed to Vancouver company Serf to Surf, which manufactures hemp-based skin-care products.
? Numerous purchases at Walmart, London Drugs, Real Canadian Super Store and Zellers.
? Holmes dined at Victoria restaurants with 36 charges in excess of the library's dinner limit of $25. There are two dinner bills from Il Terrazzo totalling $238.45 and $232.91.
? Peacock Billiards: Charge of $38.65 on Nov. 21, 2008.
According to Greater Victoria Public Library policy, the CEO is "eligible to claim reasonable hospitality expenses, such as for food, beverages, gifts and social or recreational activities, if such expenses are deemed to contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness in achieving the library's activities and strategic goals," said Alyssa Polinsky, manager of GVPL's communications.
Eric Smith, who oversees spending at the Vancouver Public Library, said there must be strict rules for all library staff when it comes to credit card purchases.
"You have to have some common sense," said Smith, corporate services director for the Vancouver library.
He is firmly against tax money being used to buy lavish meals, groceries or alcohol.
"We're funded by the public," Smith said.
"If you're in a private corporation, they have different rules. To me, I'm spending somebody else's money. It's not my money. You have got to be squeaky clean. It takes years to build a reputation and minutes to lose it."
Groceries are purchased only when cookies or snacks are needed for children's story time or a similar event, Smith said.
Dinners out are permitted if it's for an author who has come to town on invitation from the Vancouver library.
As for $500 in body care products, Smith said: "I have no comment on that one. I would never buy skin cream on my purchase card."
Purchases may be made from Walmart, London Drugs, and Future Shop if maintenance staff require tools or material to make repairs, said Smith.
It may be permissible to purchase downloaded movies or music from HMV and iTunes if there's a valid library reason, Smith said.
Flower arrangements are "occasionally" purchased for library staff who have suffered a loss, he said.
"From my point of view, you keep your business credit card for business," Smith said.
"You have to have some common sense. You don't go to the liquor store and buy a whole bunch of booze without a good reason. I don't believe in using taxpayer's dollars to provide alcohol.
"What generally happens is people buy it personally and they contribute it to the event."
Holmes was running the Victoria public library during a six-week lockout in early 2008. CUPE Local 410 pulled its 300 union members off the job, with issues including pay equity with Victoria municipal workers and fair treatment for auxiliary workers.
During the work stoppage from Feb. 18, 2008 to March 31, 2008, Holmes' Victoria library Master-card included these items:
? $121.59 from the Irish Times pub
? $27 from Swans pub
? Nine orders of pizza
? Three floral orders from Browns The Florist
? 10 grocery orders from Thrifty Foods ranging from $62.98 to $269.73, with the notation "BH's Mtg @ Thrifty Foods."
In 2010, the Victoria public library saw a decrease in provincial funding and closed most branches on Sundays. The closings, along with cuts to library materials, database subscriptions and office supplies, cut library costs by $625,000.
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