Town awaiting ministry response on audit request

 

Town Logo Small-webBy Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg is awaiting a response from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs on its audit request with questions now being raised as to why there hasn’t been a response yet.

Town council agreed at its Jan. 20 meeting to request the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to audit the town’s finances but Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Phipps told council Monday night there has been little to no response back from the province.

“I contacted Tim Ryall (from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs office) two weeks ago. He was going to check with a supervisor and call us back that day,” said Phipps. “They still haven’t called.”

Phipps told town council he was trying to seek a timeline on how the Ministry of Municipal Affairs wanted to proceed and to get a cost estimate so that could be included in the 2014 budget. An audit conducted into Enwin’s affairs in Windsor cost $80,000-$90,000, he added, so the town has placed an $80,000 figure into this year’s budget for the time being, something that he admitted after the meeting “just seems low.”

A call was placed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs earlier in the day Monday, but again, to no avail.

“They won’t call us back for some reason,” said Phipps. “I’m very disappointed the ministry isn’t getting back to us. I don’t understand why the ministry is not getting back to us.”

Guelph put in a request for an audit last October, Phipps added, and “they still haven’t heard anything.”

Councillor John Sutton stated the town should make a request that Essex MPP Taras Natyshak provide assistance in getting the ministry to hasten the audit process. Sutton stated that council and the community “want answers post haste, yesterday if possible.”

The Ontario Provincial Police investigation is underway, he confirmed, as officers from the anti-racket unit have visited Amherstburg. Officers from Barrie and London joined Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume in meeting with Phipps at his town hall office last Thursday. A “number of issues” were discussed, Phipps noted, with the Dec. 17 budget presentation turned over to the officers. Phipps told town council the OPP will further advise on who they want to interview and what documents to provide, with the CAO believing the depletion of the retiree benefit and Ranta Park reserves being an item of particular interest.

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