Pontiac council report – external audit requested for 2013

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Mo Laidlaw



Mo Laidlaw

PONTIAC – About 20 people attended the regular council meeting, April 8, at the Marcel Lavigne Community Centre in Luskville. It was announced that WiFi access will be available to citizens at municipal buildings, with the password for the service posted at each building. Aside from passing planning and zoning bylaws, an external audit for the municipality was requested.
An external audit has been requested at a cost of $19,000 plus tax, from the accounting firm Janique Éthier CPA Inc., with Director General Sylvain Bertrand on paid leave while it is carried out. Mayor Roger Larose explained there was a $129,292 deficit last year and council wants to understand why to avoid a repeat. “We want the process to be totally independent, and Bertrand agrees,” he added. The auditor will report exclusively to the mayor and council.
The resolution lists the following areas to be checked for abnormalities: the Urban planning department, to ensure that revenue from permits was received; an analysis of wages of the municipality’s various departments; and analysis of contracts from 2010 to 2013, to ensure compliance with standards.
Following the meeting on April 8, Councillors Pontiroli and Amyotte called for a special meeting, April 15, to discuss Bertrand’s suspension. “He’s suspended, even if the municipality has nothing against him and no resolution to this effect was adopted. Nor did we approve the use of surveillance cameras inside town hall.
I’m worried about the privacy implications,” said Pontiroli. Amyotte added, “We don’t know if it’s legal and that’s why we asked for legal advice.”
The two councillors believe Larose may have exceeded his powers in suspending Bertrand without a resolution from council, and have contacted Municipal affairs (MAMROT) and MNA André Fortin for advice.
“Unfortunately Larose refused to allow the lawyer to attend the special meeting to answer our questions, so we    cancelled it. We think the mayor can only act by himself if there is immediate danger to the public,” continued Pontiroli. “If we get sued we may have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.” 
Larose is not surprised by the reaction of the two councillors. He maintains that Bertrand is on leave to facilitate the external audit of municipal finances. “I’ve checked with lawyers who tell me I can do this,” he said. “As far as the cameras, I know they weren’t approved by council, but it was necessary, and doesn’t cost the municipality as it’s part of the audit firm’s services.” He says the cameras will be removed when the audit is finished.
The main item of  business at the meeting, April 8, was passing the municipal town planning and zoning bylaws      concerning not building in flood zones or high risk areas for landslides, and applying standards to protect riverbanks, shores and floodplains. All of the bylaws are to bring the municipality into conformity with provincial laws. Notably, for the many waterfront residents in the municipality, no construction, tree cutting, grass cutting or snow dumping is allowed within 15 metres inland of the natural high water line.
Much of Quyon, east of Church Road and south of Clarendon Road, is within the 100 year flood zone for the Ottawa and Quyon rivers. A high velocity zone was described,     corresponding to a risk of flooding every 20 years. Special flood-proofing requirements apply to construction in these areas, such as high windows, check valves on drains, and waterproofing.
Petro Pontiac will install, at their own expense, tanks for      gasoline and diesel at the municipal offices in Luskville to be used for municipal vehicles since there isn’t a gas station in the middle of the municipality. The tanks will reduce time spent driving to and from Quyon to refuel and will cost less than $25,000 per year.
The following were approved: invoices for March amounting to $27,377; $365,578 in fixed expenses; and $35,025 in incurred expenses for April. $7,150 was     awarded to R. Parent           Électrique for repair    and maintenance of municipal buildings and           the contract with SDUrbanisme to advise on housing developments in Quyon and Domaine des Chutes (Luskville) was renewed at a rate of $85 per hour.