Council gets more info regarding outstanding festival debts

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has been given some more information on nearly $17,000 in outstanding policing costs incurred through two festivals.

However, it appears a lot of the information was given to them via a private and confidential memo.

In a report to council from CAO John Miceli, he outlined there were several invoices sent to the Amherstburg Festival Corporation.

“The total of all invoices issued by the Town of Amherstburg to the Amherstburg Festival Corporation is $16,765.56,” the report stated.

Miceli subsequently added that the accounts receivable collections policy states that “town employees may not discuss a debt with anyone other than the debtor unless required by applicable law.” and that “details of the amount outstanding may not be discussed in a public meeting.”

Councillor Peter Courtney, who put forth the initial request for the report and to continue the issue from the previous council, asked a series of questions about when and why the town took on the debt from the then-Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB). Miceli referred to the private and confidential memo several times in his answers, but pointed out the debt was taken on in June 2017 and called it a “purely financial accounting matter.”

The CAO added that the APSB had no policy for the collection of receivables and that the receivable existed one year before the town was made aware of it. He stated the town is at the collection agency phase and, failing that, could choose to pursue litigation against the debtor.

The town has $200,000 built into the budget for write-offs and council could pursue that route if it so chooses in the future, he added.

“If council chooses to treat this receivable differently than other receivables, that’s up to the will of council,” Miceli added.

Director of corporate services Cheryl Horrobin indicated that other than property tax write-offs, the town had written off one other item over the last five years.

Courtney wondered about background checks for festival organizers, noting that he is in favour of festivals but also wants to prevent something like this from happening again. Miceli said credit checks are an option, but that comes with a cost.

Anyone wishing to request policing services for events in Amherstburg would now have to apply to Windsor, Miceli added.

Courtney said this situation was a “huge dropped ball” and that while he supports festivals, people “have to be accountable.”

“This needs to be looked at moving forward, for sure,” he said.

Councillor Michael Prue questioned amending any town policies, as he believed the policies serve the town well for the most part.

“This is an anomaly,” said Prue. “This was out of the previous council’s control. It was a mix-up as far as I can see.”

 

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