Official portraits of council cost taxpayers $13,000
Published Wednesday, December 15, 2010 10:33AM EST
A city council that was determined to save money at its inauguration by eating Tim Horton's cookies will spend $13,000 on official portraits for councillors.
"I'm not happy. I can't defend this as the previous administration made this decision and on a go-forward basis it's not going to happen on my watch," Mayor Jim Watson told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday.
The contract for the private photographer was approved by the previous council in July. However, Watson said he assumed a staff photographer would be taking his photo.
But the photographer who took the portraits said the mayor shouldn't be surprised by the photo shoot. He says he took Watson's official portrait the last time he was mayor.
However, Watson said the cost of that portrait came out of his office budget.
Even though the city has an official photographer who is paid about $55,000 per year, the city hired Couvrette Studio, a private photography company, to take the photos. The staff photographer apparently didn't have the necessary equipment for the photo shoot.
Photographer Paul Couvrette says he's fine with letting the staff photographer take the photos, but the quality won't be the same.
"If the guy can do it. Let him do it, but I can guarantee it won't look like what I did," Couvrette said.
Still, Watson says the pricey photos won't happen again.
"I can't justify spending $13,000 on hiring an outside photographer. The photographer is very good, but we have to start watching the pennies because they're turning into dollars come budget time."
A contract photographer has been used for official portraits since the city's regional days.
The official portraits get hung at Ottawa City Hall and get used on the city's website. They are also distributed to the mayor and individual councillors for promotional use.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua