By Marianne Curtis
Last month, the Dawson Trail Dispatch exclusively reported that the RM of La Broquerie council is under investigation by the Ombudsman’s office.
Reeve Marielle Wiebe confirmed the investigation but could not comment on the matter pending the release of a report by the Ombudsman after the investigation is complete.
The complaint to the Ombudsman which revolves around a few members of the current council including the reeve says that conditions in the municipality are “dysfunctional”.
“Public funds are being misused; there is no longer any transparency, no more consistency and no more justice. The council is keeping things from each other, the administrator and from the public” alleges the complaint received by the Ombudsman. “The ratepayers are unaware of these issues and are greatly being misled by their representatives.”
The complaint also asks the ombudsman to look closely at unauthorized expenditures of council members for things like gravel and other work.
At the January 27 meeting, councilor Jean Gagnon attempted to rectify the situation with the gravel bills which total around $10,000. He gave notice of motion to rescind payment of a gravel bill and excavating grading that was ordered by Councilor Ed Oswald without prior approval of council, the CAO nor the Acting Foreman at the time.
At the same meeting, council did not approve the financial statement after admitting there were issues with the figures. Councilor Ed Oswald pointed out a significant discrepancy in the public works department.
“We have a budget of $340,000 for public works but have paid out almost $500,000 in wages – this is $72,000 in salaries for each employee,” Oswald said. “There are expenses here that don’t make sense.”
A resolution passed by council in June made it very clear that no overtime was allowed unless approved by council first.
“There are some issues here and we are in the process of cleaning it up,” admitted acting Chief Administrator John Livingston.
Council is now coming under fire after it was disclosed that the offices including those of the chief administrator, assistant chief administrator, administrative assistants office, along with council chambers and the lobby have cameras installed but the public is not being informed.
Even some councilors were not aware that the cameras were installed throughout the building with the exception of one installed by the front counter, confirmed councilor Wilfred Chabot.
Former reeve Ken Mantie was upset when he found out about the cameras.
“I find this very upsetting – it’s a breach of trust,” stated Mantie. “I can not believe that ratepayers are not being told that they are being filmed when they come into the office..”
Mantie added that he has made his own complaint to the Ombudsman after several attempts to obtain councils indemnities, and the public works department indemnities were unsuccessful.
“I’ve been asking for this information for months, but I have gotten no where,” Mantie added. “I have waited longer then what is reasonable.”
~as published in the February 2010 Dawson Trail Dispatch