Introduction

On 14 May, 2018, the Council of the Municipality of North Grenville opted to accept an inaccurate staff report by Phil Gerrard on the finances of the BIA and made decisions that increase the level of difficulty for the BIA as it continues to work towards the economic development of Downtown Kemptville. This letter is an attempt to communicate our concerns regarding Council’s unilateral decision to amend our 2018 Budget without any consultation with the BIA Board of Management and the impact it will have on the operations of the BIA.

BIA Concerns

1) The BIA considers that Council acted inappropriately by referring the BIA budget to a staff member, Phil Gerrard, who is ill-equipped and lacks the proper time to perform such duties on top of everything else he is charged with. We consider that it is Council’s duty to document itself on the standards of Public Sector Accounting, liaise with Municipal Auditors, and make itself more aware of financial matters relating to the BIA. In the case of Mr. Gerrard’s Report, it was singularly unencumbered with the facts, did not base itself on a consultation with the BIA, and we of the BIA object to Council accepting an inaccurate report on which to make decisions that have an impact on the BIA’s ongoing activity. The speed at which Council wished to make a decision on the BIA’s budget was caused by the fact that the Board of Management could not present its financial information due to the timing of the municipal audit of its finances.

2) The BIA objects to any insinuation that the BIA Board of Management, its Executive Committee and its business and financial advisors are acting in any way irresponsibly when it comes to financial matters. As business people, we are well versed in financial management and accounting and show due diligence and transparency in making use of our members’ levy.

3) The BIA considers some of the remarks made by Council and in particular, Councillor Barbara Tobin, to be highly personal, objectionable, and outside of the range of her duties and purview as a Council Member.

4) The BIA objects to the mention of expansion in Council decisions. We have kept the Municipality informed of the Province of Ontario guidelines for expansion. Expansion is the sole purview of the members of the BIA until such time as we reach the point in the regulated process of making a formal request to Council. Such a request will not be made until fiscal year 2019 and any action on the part of Council until it receives a formal request from the BIA is outside of its purview and authority.

5) The impact of Council’s decisions on the BIA for the remainder of its mandate to the October 2018 Municipal election is as follows:

  • The BIA will be in violation of its Management Contract with Triune and its principal, John Barclay, with a loss of some $6,400 to his company and, thus, to the services provided to the BIA. It is our understanding from our advisors that the BIA is a government organization that possesses the power to contract in its own name and that can sue and be sued. Council’s actions have put the Board of Management in an untenable position with reference to the BIA’s contract with Triune, entered into in good faith by both parties and as a result of a rigorous staffing process.
  • We will need to reduce our activities even more, including cancelling a proposed meeting with senior staff to work on issues affecting the downtown, since no follow-up will be possible;
  • We will need to find another way to fund the BIA’s Pop-up-Shop Program, to which the Board and staff is committed, due to its positive economic effect on the downtown core;
  • Since no monies will flow to the BIA until the arrival of the first levy, and in the light of Council’s decision, we are now forced to rethink our Business Plan for 2018 and focus on 2019.

Conclusion

We are concerned and disheartened at Municipal Council’s actions in the context of the BIA as a bone fide Committee of Council expecting ongoing support. The BIA Board of Management is also an elected body and has every right to expect that Municipal Councillors will take the time to understand the fundamental role of the BIA and the impact of its activity on the economic development of Downtown Kemptville Accordingly, as per a motion passed at the Board of Management meeting of 20 June, 2018, the BIA shall be re-submitting its 2018 budget with the necessary supporting documentation that demonstrates due diligence and the financial requirements of the BIA for the fiscal year.

Signed By the Executive Committee, on behalf of the Board
Debbie Wilson, Chair
Stephen Bent, Treasurer
Paul Cormier, Secretary

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