ARICHAT: Council defeated a motion to have auditors review an account connected to the firing of the former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council last night in Arichat, councillors voted against a motion from its committee-of-the-whole to have its auditing firm examine the 2018-2019 sundry budget account.
District 5 councillor Jason MacLean made the motion to have Grant Thornton “determine if there are any inappropriate, illegal or wrongful activity” in the account. District 1 councillor James Goyetche seconded the motion.
After making the motion, MacLean then went on to question why District 2 councillor Alvin Martell did not declare a conflict-of-interest when he voted to terminate Kent MacIntyre’s contract earlier this month. Martell did declare a conflict before the committee report was read to council last night.
“If there’s a conflict with councillor Martell because there’s a family member who works for Grant Thornton, I’m not sure how it’s not a conflict in how a motion can be seconded and then voted upon when there was a termination of an immediate supervisor of another family member,” MacLean stated. “… I’m a little bit confused by that.”
“What does that have to do with the sundry account?” new Warden Brian Marchand asked in response.
“It has to do with declaring a conflict with the sundry account,” MacLean responded back.
Marchand said MacLean’s motion is about the audit of the sundry account, not the termination of the former CAO’s contract.
“There’s another place and time for that discussion,” Marchand responded
Marchand said he did not support the motion because the municipality has an audit scheduled to take place by the end of May, or early June.
“With the timing of this, it’s going to be very hard to get someone to do this, so I don’t see any urgency to have this done right now, it can be done as part of the larger audit… and we can look deeper at that account at that time.”
MacLean responded that he fully supports the motion.
“There are a lot of people with a lot of questions that have gone unanswered, and waiting extra months for that information to get out, I don’t think it’s necessary,” MacLean told council. “People have spoken loud and clear that they have questions that they want answered and we are here to represent the people…”
District 1 councillor James Goyetche said the motion was discussed and moved from the committee-of-the-whole by all councillors.
“… I don’t know what time element there is for the auditing firm but I think we should make that request, then we’ll find out,” Goyetche said. “If they’re not available, that’s a different story but I think the request has to be made. I think it’s very important, not only for the taxpayers of Richmond County, but for council also and I think to wait is not a proper thing to do…”
The motion was defeated in a 2-2 vote, with Marchand and District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher voting against.
During a special meeting on April 1, councillors voted 3-2 to terminate MacIntyre’s contract.
Before the votes were held, council reviewed information on the sundry account. Marchand told council the account was supposed to be $27,000 but was over-budget and increased to $69,850.
In responding to public questions during a special meeting on April 4, Marchand explained that it is in default and there is no money in the account. In response to more questions, Marchand said they identified a non-budgeted expenditure of $10,925 for “a project that never happened.”
The deputy warden said he requested information about the sundry account after the March 11 committee-of-the-whole meeting when the former CAO told representatives of Richmond County tourism groups there was money available for them in the account.
Marchand said his continued requests for information on the sundry account went unanswered. Then during the regular monthly meeting of council on March 25, Martell requested the information.
The deputy warden told council that after “eight months” of having requests for invoices ignored by the CAO, he was not willing to wait any longer. The deputy warden said his concerns were about the “roadblocks” the former CAO was putting up.
During the March 25 meeting, MacIntyre explained that he received an e-mail after the March 11 meeting and responded at the time that the sundry account information would be provided during discussions of the administrative budget. He noted that the sundry account does not impact current budget deliberations.
MacIntyre told council he consulted with the Department of Municipal Affairs and was told the audit committee is the proper place to discuss that budget item.
During a committee-of-the-whole meeting on April 8, MacLean asked for clarification on the sundry account.
Interim CAO Don Marchand explained that the sundry account contains recurring monthly charges that includes smaller items (water, sugar, tea, and coffee), as well as items that have no other place within the operating budget, including one-time and other monthly charges.