Municipality of Pontiac keeps expenses audit secret

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Laurent Robillard-Cardinal


Laurent Robillard-Cardinal

MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – This summer, the Municipality of Pontiac sent an internal audit into their spending to Quebec’s anti-corruption agency (UPAC) and to the ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMOT). The audit results have not been released to the public, despite requests from the Pontiac Journal to do so.
“After receiving the report we had a legal team look at it, and it was          recommended to send it (directly) to l’UPAC,” said Roger Larose, Mayor of Pontiac. According to a municipal press release, council gave a professional accounting firm the        mandate of carrying out an expanded internal forensic audit. The goal was to see if there were anomalies in operations of the following: Urban Planning Department – to ensure that fees to which the municipality is entitled are collected properly; salaries – analysis of salaries (vacation leave, overtime, contract compliance, etc.) in the different departments of the municipality; and contracts – analysis of contracts to ensure compliance to standards for awarding contracts for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Larose, previously a councillor, defeated incumbent Mayor Eddie McCann by 49 votes in the 2013    election. McCann has    since declared himself a             candidate for the federal Liberal nomination in the Pontiac riding.
Following these audits, a report with recommendations was produced and provided exclusively to Pontiac’s mayor and council. The mayor then       transferred a copy to a law firm for analysis and recommendations. Larose sent the report to l’UPAC in late June. “I sent it (to l’UPAC) because there are things that could have irregularities and that should be looked into,” said Larose.
Larose said he would not provide details of  “the things” to the media or taxpayers until UPAC finishes their investigation. He did say there were irregularities for a few years and there were “other things” also. “We will learn more about the other things when I have the go-ahead to talk about them,” said Larose. “At this point I can’t unveil the report’s content.” He did not say who would give him the “go-ahead” to release the report.
Larose estimates UPAC investigators will get in touch with the municipality within weeks and by then the population “should” have more news. The mayor did say he’s eager to talk about the report’s    content. “For me, there are things in the report that require clarification. I did what I had to do, but again, I can’t spend taxpayer    dollars to go further.”
L’UPAC is not the only organization to receive the internal report, as did the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. “I thought they should be aware of what’s going on,” Larose told the Pontiac Journal. “I think it’s my responsibility.” Pontiac MNA André Fortin is also aware of the situation, he added.
This past spring, Larose explained there was a $129,292 operating deficit last year and council wanted to understand how it happened, to avoid a repeat. Former Director General Sylvain Bertrand was on leave to facilitate the audit of municipal finances, but he resigned   on May 26, 2014, to take    up a new professional opportunity. Bertrand had           managed the daily affairs of the municipality since 2001.