Letter to the residents of Merrickville:

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Recent months have seen many questions asked during Council sessions regarding the ongoing CAO investigation. Most of these questions have remained unanswered due to perceived privacy issues. A group of concerned citizens have formulated a series of questions which we believe would provide some clarity to many of the queries circulating around the Village, while respecting the need for privacy, during the process which has now ended. Many of the questions below were submitted a few weeks ago to the Mayor and Council, were never put on the agenda as per policy, even after having specifically asked them to be, and resulted with an email “can’t comment” answer.

In the spirit of openness, accountability and transparency, all principles which the Mayor and Council have indicated they wish to adhere to, and to permit this experience to be a learning one for this and future Councils, we believe that answers are needed. The little information provided so far related to costs accumulated over the past 5 months would indicate somewhere in excess of $100K to possibly $200K or more of taxpayer dollars have been spent, directly and indirectly, in a process shrouded in secrecy and deniability.

The only result of all this time and money spent is the resignation of the CAO, who’s most recent activities prior to being put on leave were performance reviews and budget reviews of the Municipal departments. Which we find to be an interesting coincidence.

Our group wishes to maintain the pressure on the existing council to provide answers, so that come nomination and election time an informed decision can be made as to whom should and should not govern for the future. We encourage all residents to contact their council representative and the mayor and to voice their displeasure as to the lack of answers and transparency in this process. We also encourage those who wish to examine the option of asking for the information through Access to Information Requests.

A group of concerned residents and taxpayers

  1. What were the criteria for determining that an investigation of the CAO should be undertaken rather than normal employer/employee communication or simply dismissal without cause as was the case with a previous Treasurer and who made the decision to proceed with an investigation?
  2. Who wrote the mandate for the investigator?
  3. Who sat on the Committee to select the investigator?
  4. How much was set aside in the approved 2018 budget to cover the costs incurred with the investigation?
  5. Why was a RFP not issued for the investigator as per Municipal Policy?
  6. How many of the in camera meetings which have taken place since September 2017 have been related to this issue?
  7. Please provide a summary ( to the nearest $5K) of cost incurred for the investigation, including staff time, all contractors, advisors and any other parties involved.
  8. It would appear that the individual who is controlling the cost of the investigation is the Investigator. If this is not the case what financial controls have been put in place to ensure that the residents of Merrickville Wolford receive good value for their tax dollars. If there was a time line set for completion of this process what was that time line. If in fact the budget for this work is without any limits who made the decision to proceed in this manner and why?
  9. Who provided oversight on the process and who gave them the authority?
  10. What funds in the budget had been set aside to cover the resulting impacts of the investigation? If so how much? If not, why not?
  11. Which Councillor was present to discuss the results of the report?
  12. How many and when was the last performance review for the CAO done? Were the results in line with of the expectations? Who did the performance reviews?
  13. Were any members of Council and/or the Mayor present at any of the staff interviews performed by the investigator and this at whose request? For how many of the interviews and who was present at each, Councillor or Mayor?
  14. Which Councillors are aware of the reasons for the above noted investigation and were in agreement with an open ended budget for this process
  15. Will the report result in any other directly related departmental efficiency or budget reviews?

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