FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2017
Rideau Lakes Moving Forward Following Ombudsman Report
Chantry, Ontario, April 24, 2017 – The Township of Rideau Lakes Council received a report from the Ombudsman on Monday April 24. The report followed Council’s appointment of an Ombudsman to investigate the accumulation of a deficit between 2008 and 2014 of $1.18 million.
The Ombudsman’s findings clearly indicate that the checks, balances and financial controls built into the Municipal Act and local policies and procedures failed during this period, allowing a deficit to accumulate.
It was confirmed that no funds were misappropriated, rather funds were overspent in certain years, and were not accounted for in the following year’s budget as required by the Municipal Act.
Findings indicate that primary responsibility for the accumulation of the deficit rested with the Township’s former Treasurer and former auditor, and to a lesser extent the Township’s former CAO. Council appointed a new auditor in 2015 and a new Treasurer in 2016. The Township’s former CAO departed in 2014.
The Ombudsman found there was a fundamental misunderstanding of new accounting procedures introduced in 2009, called PSAB, and how they impacted annual surpluses and deficits. This was combined with a lack of timely and accurate information flows.
Despite their need to rely on the professional advice and expertise of various positions, the Ombudsman made clear that ultimately, the responsibility for the fiscal integrity of a municipality rests with a Township’s Council.
In concluding his report, the Ombudsman made six recommendations. This included professional qualifications for certain roles, management performance reviews, financial reporting and analysis and Council training.
At their meeting, Council acknowledged the Ombudsman’s report and directed staff to develop a timeline to implement the recommendations in full. Some recommendations have already been implemented.
Mayor Holman noted “I am pleased with the Ombudsman’s report. It clearly indicates no funds were ever misspent. Rather, funds were spent in excess of those budgeted on projects that benefit taxpayers, such as road improvements, and highly variable services, such as winter plowing and materials, and were simply not budgeted for in the following year.”
He further added, “We have taken steps since this matter arose to progressively address it. This included accounting for the deficit in full using reserves and an operating surplus from 2015 and by changing a number of key roles within the municipality. I take the management of residents’ tax dollars very seriously, and look forward to working with Council and staff to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations.”
Chief Administrative Officer
Township of Rideau Lakes