I’ll continue writing this blog for the duration of the election campaign. I won’t burden my readers with lurid campaign details to date except to say I knocked over my ladder while putting up Jim Duff District 5 posters and had to koala-hug my way down a splintery staple-studded hydro pole.
We have to keep our eyes on the goings-on at Hudson town hall for the duration of the election, out of public view from this evening until the next mayor and council are sworn in more than a month from now.
Council will be dissolved after this evening’s special meeting (7 p.m., Community Centre) but town business will continue under the supervision of the acting mayor (pro-mayor Natalie Best) and town manager Jean-Pierre Roy. That includes loan bylaws for paving and a new well, a parking bylaw and approval of the new Coast Guard base.
I’m sure resolutions adopted at last week’s council meeting will reverberate during question period, especially the announcement of a deal with Sandy Beach developer Nicanco whereby the town takes over responsibility for Beach Road/ Royalview. In exchange, the developer adds a lot to the east to the existing servitude and agrees to install all infrastructure and pave the road. The developer will also cover the cost of two sewage pumping stations and extending a line west to the sewage treatment plant.
There is a long and growing list of work being done to comply with the Dec. 31 deadline for completion of projects receiving funding this year, including a new roof and mural for the curling club. Two local artists, Daniel Gautier and Kent Thomson, will be paid $10,000 each (they have both been cut $5,000 cheques to cover their setup costs) for designing and creating a We are Canada mural (citizens are promised some form of input at a later date). Roy, as DG, has been given authority by this council to sign cheques and approve contracts while residents pick a council that will have to live with the results and approve the final tab.
Posted this on FB yesterday:
Going through the auditor’s report on Hudson’s fiscal 2016. (It was presented at this council’s last regular Monday-night rubber-stamp event.) A $976,343 operating surplus, $4M in the bank, $400,000 more than budgeted to pay down the $26.7M long-term debt, lower than budgeted expenditures. Flip side: Hudson’s auditor can’t attest to the veracity of the data in their report because the town remains under a MAMOT dark cloud.
It’s hard to nail down, this dark cloud but there’s no doubt it’s there, a conflation of Louise Villandré’s online gambling frauds and the litigious mess involving the town’s former DG, a human resources consultant and the outgoing mayor. Here’s the introduction to an adverse opinion of the town’s financial situation (my translation and synopsis:
Our responsibility consists of offering an opinion on the consolidated financial statements on the basis of our audit. We carried out our audit according to generally recognized Canadian audit norms. These norms require that we adhere to [our profession’s] code of ethics and that we plan and conduct the audit so as to reasonably assure ourselves that the consolidated financial statements not contain significant anomalies.
An audit presupposes the carrying out of procedures designed to gather correct data concerning the sums and information contained in the consolidated financial statements. The choice of procedures is up to the auditor, and notably that his evaluation of risks the consolidated financial statements may contain significant anomalies and that these may result in frauds or errors. In the risk evaluation, the auditor takes into consideration [the Town of Hudson’s] internal controls on the preparation and accurate presentation of the consolidated financial statements so as to come up with audit procedures appropriate under the circumstances, and not with the goal of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the [town’s] internal controls. An audit also carries with it an appreciation of the appropriateness of the accounting methods used and how the consolidated financial statements are presented.
The audit evidence, Gaudreau, Poirier concluded in its report, is “sufficient and appropriate on which to base our adverse opinion (opinion d’audit défavorable)”
Wikipedia: In an audit report, an adverse opinion is one expressed by the professional accountant in which the auditor formulates a restriction on the basis that the financial statements do not fairly present the entity’s financial position and results in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or a other applicable financial reporting framework.
Gaudreau Poirier continues: The town’s internal control deficiencies between 2004 and 2013 may have allowed some expenditures on town projects covered by [government] grants not in conformity with the loan bylaws that approved them. The auditors were unable to determine specific incidents.
In their view, the town’s consolidated financial statements do not give an accurate picture of the financial situation of the town and organizations under its control as of Dec. 31/16.
This post has been corrected to reduce the payout to the two We are Canada artists to $10,000 from $15,000.
A FB message from Culture and Tourism director Laura McCaffrey on plans for public involvement: “Mr Duff – a quick correction regarding the mural info you posted on your latest blog. Each artist will be paid $10,000 for their work, which will have extended over 3 months. Input from residents has been solicited over the last 2 months via emails to our community and cultural organizations and their members, through social media, and through printed media with an article in YLJ and Arts Hudson. In addition to the submissions that we have received from the public, which have all been taken into account in the design of the mural, Hudson residents will have an opportunity to contribute to the actual painting of the mural once the painting process has begun. At the outset when determining timelines for the completion of this project, we concluded that November 11th would be a realistic and appropriate date to unveil the completed project. We continue to be on track to meet this deadline.”
The alleged conversion of the beach servitude to outright public ownership was based on an unrecorded conversation and remains to be confirmed.