Dozens of angry ratepayers at a public meeting peppered Reeve Howard Arndt with questions after receiving notices that their property taxes had soared. (Geoff Leo) The provincial government has appointed a supervisor for the Rural Municipality of McKillop and recommended the RM commission financial and management audits.
On Thursday morning, the province released a 36-page report it commissioned in August following protests by ratepayers who said the council for the RM, which is about 60 kilometres northwest of Regina, had doubled their taxes and mismanaged their money.
The report’s author, former administrator Carol Ingham, was asked to review how the RM was handling petitions by ratepayers, look at legal actions involving the municipality and examine how finances were being managed.
Ingham found there is "considerable dysfunction among the members of council and challenges by the council and its administration in meeting the expectations of its citizens and being a transparent and accountable independent municipal government."
Despite the challenges, Ingham said she found "no factual evidence of theft, fraud or misappropriation of funds."
She also concluded that despite the widely publicized massive tax increases, "it does not appear the RM is in financial difficulty. It appears the RM has rarely needed to access its $100,000 line of credit for operating the municipality. The long-term debt of the RM is below its authorized debt limit." Supervisor appointed for one year
The government says it has appointing retired rural municipal administrator Vern Palmer to oversee the RM while it follows the reports recommendations. His appointment will last one year. Saskatchewan Government Relations and First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs Minister Warren Kaeding has appointed a supervisor for the RM of McKillop. (Alex Brockman/CBC News) "The provincial government will now in good faith give the supervisor and this RM’s council the opportunity to do their work," Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding is quoted as saying in a news release.
That work involves following the report’s recommendations. Audits recommended
Among those recommendations are "that the RM council should complete a financial audit and a management audit."
Ratepayers asked council for those audits a year ago, submitting petitions with more than 400 signatures each.
The provincial report says council got legal advice stating the petitions were insufficient. Despite that, council agreed to consider commissioning audits, the report says. Council and ratepayers have been unable to agree on the scope of such a review.
Ingham outlines what she considers a reasonable scope for both audits and urges the RM and the petitioners "to work together to arrive at the potential scope of the audits."
She concludes "it is recommended that the RM proceed with these audits." Revenue Canada launching audit
These RM is already facing another audit after catching the attention of federal tax authorities.
"Revenue Canada has informed the RM it will commence an audit in the week of September 16, 2018, of employee’s T4s," the provincial report says.
It says the RM has been informed that federal tax officials will look at why, "the 2016 and 2017 T4s do not match the amounts submitted to Revenue Canada by the RM."The report also states the RM is facing internal turmoil and many legal challenges. One councillor is being accused of conflict of interest. The RM has received complaints about issues ranging from employment standards to zoning bylaws to ethics.Ingham wrote that she hopes her recommendations help the RM get back on track. She also included a warning."If the above actions do not improve the functioning of the RM during the supervisor’s appointment the minister should consider if it is in the public interest to take further action," which could include, "directives to council and the […]
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