Hudson: Another fiscal crisis?

I have in front of me documents dealing with the Town of Hudson’s finances, beginning with the Prévisions budgétaires 2014. This is the official version of how the administration spent the budget it adopted Jan. 20, 2014. It was filed with the municipal affairs ministry Feb. 4, 2014 by then treasurer Sylvain Bernard, another of the growing list of victims of Hudson Town Hall’s lethal revolving door.

I have yet to see the 2015 version. It was supposed to have been filed by now but I’m told it has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. I hear the failure to file is provoking another crisis at town hall. Municipal affairs isn’t known for its patience, especially in dealing with a municipality that can’t seem to get its act together. We shouldn’t be surprised if Hudson is assessed a penalty for late filing. I’d counsel less emphasis on unimportant stuff. Stick to the basics, like feeding Quebec the numbers they want, when they want them.

I’ve already voiced my concern: last year’s numbers don’t add up and there’s no way they can be tweaked. The town has burned through two treasurers for undisclosed reasons. Transparency on this issue would be welcome.

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10 thoughts on “Hudson: Another fiscal crisis?

  1. With reference to Jim’s “another fiscal crisis” : It still seems very odd to have no public statement for the fiscal period of – Jan.1/14 to Dec.31/14. Time and again the question has been asked – Where are the statements ? this was this council’s first year in office and we still have no idea of how they did vs. their budget. Still stranger is the line in the agenda for the council meeting of Dec.15/15. “Considering the recommendations of the audited statements for 2014” So the audited statements are there . Why does the Mayor keep saying the financial statements for 2014 aren’t ready. By the Cities and Towns Act municipal financial statements are to be ready no later than May31 of the following year and presented to the public no later than the same year Aug.1. So we are at Feb.22, 2016 and we have yet to see any of this administrations financial doings since Jan.1/2014 and 2015’s must be ready for Revenu Quebec by this May31. Indeed , Jim, another fiscal crisis seems looming.

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  2. JIm, if the town had insurance against fraud we should have filed a claim as soon as she plead guilty. Also, I’m sure any such insurance would be contingent on proper oversight. We failed there because we were too cheap to hire a Treasurer and “let” her do that job too. Robotic Councillors proposing, seconding, and voting unanimously per script didn’t help either. Must have been 50+ people who might have known if they looked closer.

    Might be able to sue the auditors, they have professional malpractice coverage and big funding for defense, and my understanding is that many relevant accountant’s notes were in the financial statements and the mayor and councilors got copies missing pages with those notes. Apparently no one noticed. Seems like there’s still some accountant’s fiduciary responsibility if you put notes in year after year and nothing changes.

    Might be able to sue or settle with the banks that deposited cheques payable to the town of Hudson in her personal accounts. That seems like the best way we might get something back. That must have happened locally, so someone should have recognized that it was being done.

    Her greatest criminal asset was her impenetrable presence, her act of being above everything and preaching the right way to do everything. Hell, I think she was even President of her professional association (Greffiers) for a time. She was a studied and practiced criminal mind pulling the wool over a whole town where she lived and worked.

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    1. Peter, let me get this straight, “Robotic Councillors proposing, seconding, and voting unanimously didn’t help”. I presume you are lumping all of us who served on council in the same boat? Shame on you! I did my job extremely well and proud of it and so did many other members of council. This fraud was meant to deceive everyone, going back decades, way before I moved to Hudson. We were not the only ones to see the audited financial statements, were they not deposited at a council meeting? there for everyone who was interested to look at them including the newspapers? And the auditors’ notes were NOT in the financial statements as you stated, but apart and we, council, never saw them. When we discovered that these recommendations existed and had been kept from us, it was then that we asked for her resignation as we had lost complete trust in her. What else had she been hiding from us?This mess actually started with the problem of the tax deductions not done properly. I asked how come this woman, who is so knowledgeable, doesn’t know a taxable benefit when it’s staring her in the face? THAT’S how it started and could have been handled very quietly internally but when you know something is not legal, it is a duty to declare it which is what we did. As far as cheques payable to the town deposited in her own bank account, that’s not quite so and the strategy she used I’m not going to make public as I don’t want to give any people ideas since it worked for years! The other point, that Jim made is about the financial statements and the minister of municipal affairs not being very patient. Well, the town was asked by the government year after year for its benchmark figures which were never sent. Only discovered that after LV left. Now why did the government not pay a visit to Hudson since Hudson was the only town among approx. 1400? municipalities in Quebec who didn’t comply? I guess because they give towns a lot of autonomy but really, what’s the point of having Cities & Towns act if it’s not respected.
      I expect they are more vigilant now.
      One thing I’m sure of, if taxpayers, or council members don’t like the answer to their questions, ask again until you are satisfied. Let’s not be paranoid but a healthy curiosity of how your town spends your money is going to go a long way to hopefully prevent such a fraud.

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      1. Diane, your council got the short end of the stick and I was not lumping you into that group. In fact you handled a very difficult situation very well. Your council, like ones before were following what was done before.

        The biggest irregularity I believe was that it seemed the auditors never presented to Council, something I find absolutely unprofessional on their part.

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  3. I gotta stay with Jim on Louise ,Peter. I do remember when she got cancer and through some bizarre medical mishap they actually spread the cancer when they botched the biopsy. Her husband was ill and on dialysis for years. They both seemed to keep working , although in Louise’s case it would have saved us some money if she’d taken some time off. I never got on her bad side but neither was I more than just an acquaintance. I , along with others just assumed she was doing her job and I can’t say I would have done any better at seeing the signs than any others. In her defence (if there is one) people get caught up in things and life throws curves. So we lost $1.1 million over 24 years. That’s $1.1 / 24 years/ 2800 taxpayers = $16.97 she stole from me . I’ll give her a break on the interest at 5%/yr. and now in 2016 she owes me $54.73. You’re right , it’s time to let it go and I’m not expecting my $54.73. She can keep it along with all the suffering she has yet to come.

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  4. Brian, I think you’re missing a decimal point there. Still, don’t expect your $500+ back.
    I respected her a lot, she had me believing she was immensely competent. After our son died there were several issues in the aftermath where I started to believe she was either not good at her job or actually a bad person. I gave her the benefit of the doubt until long after she was arrested and she disappointed me in my trust and respect.

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  5. Thanks Peter. I always made sure I attended the audit presentations of the CIT and Transport Soleil committees so I asked Louise V why council members were not present she told me that, unlike me some of the councillors were short of time so she always handled it. Being a first time councillor I assumed hudson did things differently and why would I question the authority on all municipal matters? Also, the auditors were not a fly-by-night operation, having done the audits for years. If only I had known that their recommendations went unheeded. Live and Learn.

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  6. Con Man is short for Confidence Man.

    To really take advantage you must be a good actor and LV was so prim and proper in her appearance to be almost unapproachable and then she spoke with such certainty and authority and so it would seem unnatural to question her.

    I also fault MAMOT for not following up in more timely fashion and detail, but like many government organisms they react only after a problem comes to light and presume that municipalities and auditors follow their guidelines.

    I’m still shaking my head that our mayor was significantly behind on his municipal taxes, I think that was a tragic part of this whole episode that perhaps led many outsiders to believe incorrectly that there was perhaps some complicity between LV and the Mayor(s) she worked with. I’m sure if there were any evidence of that type of thing it would have surfaced in UPAC’s review and charges would have been filed.

    Time to move on from this one woman town wrecking ball and look forward to better times in Hudson.

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    1. Absolutely, this woman lived in my head since Feb. 2013. To me, yesterday was the end of a long disturbing saga and I can now look to more positive projects. I am now, apparently, a photographer, since I have the diploma to prove it and I may just start to photograph Hudson in all its splendour. Public service will have to wait for a while.

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  7. I always try to find the root cause of any situation. Partly because that is the way I was trained as an engineer but mainly because it is the only way to prevent errors in the future. It is my belief that the root cause of this sorry saga was the “head in the sand” attitude of the Hudson population. We allowed this to happen. We did not involve ourselves in the daily operations of the town, and more importantly, we elected Mayors and councillors with little or no hands-on business organisational experience. This is not their fault, they offered their services to the electors and were chosen based on other criteria.
    This brings me to “my” root cause which is the electoral process in a democracy. Our representatives are not judged on their ability to run the Town efficiently, they are elected based on what “goodies” they offer. The current Mayor was elected on his slogan “Back to Proud” !!
    The Hudson Gazette was the only consistent mouthpiece which tried to dig below the surface and determine more of the capabilities applicable to our needs. I miss it greatly.

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