Deloitte meets with council over 41 recommendations

 

Town hall summerBy Ron Giofu

 

Town council held a meeting with Deloitte representatives last Thursday afternoon to go over the 41 recommendations the firm gave the town in its recent financial practices review.

The meeting had been originally scheduled for the boardroom next to the council chambers but a 4-3 vote of council the previous Monday night got it moved into the chambers with Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland, and councillors John Sutton, Diane Pouget and Bart DiPasquale voting in favour of the move.

At the start of last Thursday’s session, Mayor Wayne Hurst said the Deloitte team – headed by Jamie Lanoue – would not take questions from the public or media. Council went around the table asking questions, some of which will be handled in-camera at a later date. Sutton asked about the recommendation of a finance and audit committee with Lanoue stating the intent is for it to be a combined committee of council.

Sutton also asked about the appropriate level of financial reporting to council, with Lanoue stating it should start at quarterly reporting.

The long-term financial plan was also discussed, with Lanoue noting contingencies need to be built into the plan to deal with such things as the development charges forecast. He said it is healthy for council to ask such questions as what assumptions went into the long-term forecast. On the issue of training for councillors, Councillor Bob Pillon wanted to know how in-depth it would go.

“You know the old saying, you get too many cooks in the kitchen, you are going to screw it up,” he said.

Councillor Carolyn Davies said she found Deloitte’s report “useful” and also wondered about training. Lanoue indicated continuing education courses or courses offered through municipal organizations could be accessed by council members.

DiPasquale wanted to know how the reserves were used and who issued authorization for how they were used. Lanoue indicated that was one of the items not in their scope but said policies Deloitte has recommended will lead to better cash handling in the future.

Pouget asked whether Deloitte fulfilled all of the conditions under the RFP, with Lanoue stating the report was reviewed by the firm’s quality assurance measures as well as two different levels within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Lanoue also said, in response to another Pouget question, that the town risks operating with higher financial risks if the 41 recommendations were not adopted.

Sutherland asked about reserve funds, specifically those left for Ranta Park. Manager of financial services Wendy Dade stated the $133,493 Sutherland was questioning is there and that town financial staff is trying to segregate reserve funds.

Sutton asked Lanoue a similar question that he asked at a previous meeting regarding whether Deloitte’s investigation found anything fraudulent or anything to suggest a forensic audit was required. Lanoue stated their investigation found nothing that “raised tentacles” and believed that the recommendation Deloitte put forward should put Amherstburg on the right track.

Local resident Jim Broderick attempted to ask questions at the end of the meeting but was told by Hurst the meeting had ended. Broderick continued to ask questions as council members and the public filed out of the council chambers.

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