Resident’s South of 60 questions spurs more digging

BARRY’S BAY – The finance and administration committee will further review the finances at the South of 60/Railway Station after a resident voiced a number of concerns. 
Rita McLean, a Madawaska Valley resident, spoke up during the public question and answer period following the finance and administration committee on March 10. There, committee had just voted to accept the second draft of the 2016 municipal budget (for more on that story see page 1).
McLean had asked about $300 being paid for a trip to Renfrew and back, for someone to pick up a piece of art. 
“I also heard a rumour that two people went down for papers,” McLean said. “I want to know the truth.”
Mayor Kim Love asked staff for clarity on the issue.
“I don’t believe that the $300 that’s being cited here was the actual amount that was paid for mileage because that’s physically impossible,” Love explained.
Treasurer Brenda Sabatine didn’t have the exact figures available and speculated it could have been a few trips to Renfrew rather than just one. 
“Okay, can we get the details of that please, because it’s not 300-and-some-odd kilometres to Renfrew,” Love said. “If it encompassed a couple of trips or something else, if we could please have that information reported to us I would appreciate it.”
Councillor Elser Lee Faith Archer said there was staff commitment in the past to bring those details to council but nothing came to fruition. She put a motion forward that a report be presented on the issue at the next finance and administration committee.
Councillor Ernie Peplinski seconded the motion, with an amendment to include an opportunity to look at all of the invoices from the South of 60 and visitor information centre.
“It’s very confusing as to who is paying for what,” Peplinski explained. 
“I don’t principally agree but if it would clarify things for everybody I would amend it,” Councillor Archer complied.
“I would like to see the invoices,” Peplinski added. “There seems to be a big problem in describing this $300. I think everybody agrees it’s something other than mileage. I think that we would do a good service to the taxpayers if we had a good look at this. It would clear up a lot of uncertainty.”
Mayor Love pointed out that it would take a significant amount of committee time to review each invoice. Councillor Bromwich added that it will take a significant amount of staff time, too. 
“Staff time here is going to be taxpayer funded, so be aware for that,” he said. “Any requests such as this might take days. It’s going to be picked up by the taxpayer.”
Regardless, the motion carried and the invoices will be brought up to the April finance and administration committee meeting.


Get your March 16, 2016 edition of The Valley Gazette for the full story.