ARICHAT: Municipal officials were happy to receive the latest correspondence from the provincial ombudsman.

During the regular Richmond Municipal Council meeting in Arichat on September 25, interim Chief Administrative Officer Louis Digout said a recent letter from the provincial ombudsman confirmed they are no longer investigating the financial practices of the municipality.

A 36-page report from Nova Scotia’s Office of the Ombudsman, released last November, asked Richmond Municipal Council to review and revise travel and expense claim policies; ensure proper training in policy, procedures and compliance for councillors, staff and the county’s future Chief Administrative Officer; establish quality assurance mechanisms to ensure compliance and accountability with regards to travel and expense claim policies; and undertake a review of the current budgeting process to ensure the actual and forecasted operational and administrative needs of the municipality are met.

In addition to the recommendations to the municipality, the report recommended that the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) consider establishing standardized travel and expense polices for municipalities across Nova Scotia, re-examine the feasibility of establishing a Municipal Auditor General, and undertake a review of DMA’s role in ensuring municipal compliance with Nova Scotia’s Municipal Government Act.

The ombudsman’s final report is available on the Web site of the Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman, via the Web link:

Warden Brian Marchand said the office was satisfied with the municipality’s response to the issues raised in the report but noted “there is always more work to be done.”

Interim CAO Louis Digout added that although the correspondence was meant to be confidential, it was important to let the public know.

“It’s a very newsworthy item,” Digout said.