SCUGOG: The Township of Scugog has decided, Mayor Tom Rowett will move forward with a review of Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett’s expense records.
At a meeting on Monday, December 18th, during a discussion on the minutes of the General Purpose and Administration Committee meeting that was held on Monday, December 4th, Mayor Rowett made a motion to change the decision made at that meeting.
At the time, the Mayor had vacated his seat as chair of the meeting.
Following a deputation from former councillor Howard Danson, council members originally approved a resolution to direct Township staff to “obtain the advice of Regional legal counsel and Township auditors, with regards to Council, Staff, Committees and Boards and credit card expense claims, and the approval procedure for paying such expenses, and report back in February, 2018.”
However, the Mayor’s motion stated, the “Township’s Finance Department compile all of Councillor Kett’s expense records, from the beginning of [his] term of council, and provide to the Mayor” so he can review them with Councillor Kett, to “determine what expenses, if any, should be paid back to the Township.” The motion also stated, the Mayor report back to council by February, of 2018.
“The [original] motion stated that the scope and cost etc. would come back in February. There have been preliminary quotes that are in excess of $75,000 to do the audit that has been requested,” Mayor Rowett explained. “I certainly didn’t anticipate this kind of cost, so I wanted to focus the attention on what the request was from the delegation and to deal with it in a less cost prohibitive manner.”
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew supported the Mayor’s motion.
“Although it sounds like the right thing to do, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend $75,000 or more, or around that, when there doesn’t seem to be any red flags [raised by the finance department regarding Township staff expense claims]. That’s why I’ve seconded the motion,” she said.
Ward 5 Councillor, Jennifer Back questioned why the part relating to all Township staff, committees and boards was omitted in the Mayor’s motion, and asked that the finance department come up with a detailed list of all expenses submitted.
“I think it would be in the taxpayers’ best interest to see where their tax dollars are going,” she said.
CAO, Paul Allore said councillors should expect to see more information when the budget process resumes.
“I think that, through the budget process, council will see the line items. The line items are broken down pretty good. They are not finite to this trip or that, but staff expenditures and mileage are quantified during the budget,” he said.
Ward 4 Councillor, Wilma Wotten said Mayor Rowett’s motion had “to do with what the ask was of a resident” and added Councillor Back’s larger review idea did not have to be tied to the Mayor’s motion.
Mayor Rowett agreed that his motion “doesn’t mean, no further action would be taken.”
Clerk J.P. Newman said, if the Township wished to proceed with a separate review of all council and Township staff members’ expenses, a councillor could make a notice of motion for the first meeting in January.
Mayor Rowett’s motion was later approved by council.