ARICHAT: With municipal elections looming and the fallout continuing from a leaked draft report by Nova Scotia’s Office of the Ombudsman, Richmond County’s warden now expects to receive a forensic audit on five years’ worth of expense claims by municipal councillors and staffers before the end of this week.
Victor David has confirmed that officials with the legal firm Boyne Clarke, who conducted the forensic audit with the assistance of Richmond’s municipal auditors Grant Thornton, pledged that the audit would arrive at the council chambers tomorrow (Thursday).
Speaking to The Reporter late last week, David did not confirm specifics on distributing the information contained in the audit, which examined all expenses incurred by municipal councillors and staff members on credit cards issued to them by the municipality between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2016. However, the warden was pleased at the concept that the audit report will arrive in the county prior to this Saturday’s municipal elections.
“I’m glad that it’s coming out before the election, and the voters are going to be able to make up their minds,” David predicted.
The warden’s comments came less than 24 hours after Richmond Municipal Council held an emergency in-camera session to deal with the fallout from the leak of a consultative report issued by the Ombudsman’s Office in early October. Originally designed to give councillors and staff the opportunity to suggest clarifications to the report’s authors prior to an October 28 deadline, the draft document reached the hands of provincial media earlier this month.
Confirming that the emergency meeting held on October 6 at the municipal council chambers in Arichat was “to discuss the legal parameters on what we could and could not do,” David spoke positively about the mood around the council table.
“It was good, very good, actually – we had a very good meeting, and I think some people learned a lot last night,” said David, who continued to offer few further details about council’s official reaction to the draft report.
“It’s still a consultative report, it’s nothing that has been written in stone, the councillors still have an opportunity to speak to it, and so does everybody else that’s been involved in it. It’s in the review stage, and we all have the opportunity to look at it and give our remarks.”
David’s remarks came as the municipality released a statement confirming that Jason Martell, the county’s Deputy Clerk/Treasurer, will now answer “any questions about municipal matters” in the absence of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Warren Olsen, who began an indefinite medical leave last week.