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.”


Local lawyer brings attention to Ontario’s debt with Halloween-themed display



By Jolene Perron


If you’ve driven down Sandwich St. S. recently, you may have noticed the three-foot tombstones on the front lawn of Anthony Leardi’s law office.

Leardi explained his launch of the “Ontario Debt Graveyard,” on the front lawn of his 23 Sandwich St. law office, displays five tombstones, each with a fact about government debt and how it affects taxpayers. The idea started a few years ago, when he put a tombstone in his Halloween display at home which said “Honest taxpayer, born free, taxed to death.” He explained parents got a good laugh out of it, and he decided he needed to go bigger.

Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi has put five tombstones on display on the front lawn of his business, each of which display a fact about the government debt and how it affects taxpayers.

“The facts are verified by the Ontario Budget Office, the Fraser Institute, and Bloomberg News,” said Leardi. “I decided to do this display to draw attention to the fact that the interest payments we have to pay on the government debt are a huge waste of money. Government debt is bad for taxpayers.”

Previously, Leardi was a municipal councilor and also served as the deputy mayor of Amherstburg from 2003-06, so political issues have always been a large part of his life.

One of the displays explains Ontario is spending over $31 million dollars per day just in interest payments on the debt. Another says Ontario’s interest payments at over $11 billion per year.

“I hope to show taxpayers how bad government debt is and how it negatively affects taxpayers,” said Leardi.

The display will remain up until October 31.