The RM of De Salaberry has made some changes in regards to some financial procedures even prior to hearing concerns from the Auditor General of Manitoba.
In February 2014, the Auditor General received five allegations, through its citizens concern line, about "financial irregularities" in De Salaberry. The audit was conducted for a period between January 1, 2010, and May 31, 2014, a time when the municipality went through numerous changes in its administration.
The allegations include, "some credit card transactions lacked support, personal items were charged to RM credit cards, that not all donations at a fundraising event were deposited, there were excessive promotional expenses and that project management services were not tendered."
The report indicates there was $33,000 in unsupported credit card transactions which include hotel, restaurant and other charges with or without a receipt but with no detail about the purpose or who attended. In terms of not all donations at a fundraising event being deposited, the audit refers to the Fond Laval Cloutier Charity Golf Tournament, which is a fund available to residents, in the Village of St. Pierre and the RM of De Salaberry, in need of financial assistance in the event of a family health emergency. The audit states the net profit did not equal the amount deposited to the fund but the difference was under $200.
The report also mentions excessive promotional expenses. Between 2010 and 2014, the RM purchased a number of jackets, golf shirts and other items which were either sold to council members or given to staff and volunteers of the municipality as gifts.
The audit also shows the municipality had already taken a number of steps to tighten up its finances and the way it records various expenses prior to the report being released. The municipality also says it is continuing to make improvements in the way it documents expenses
"Our administration is working quite diligently on that, making sure that council is being transparent in every which way it can be. Another thing that we have done to help the situation is our finance officer, who retired, we replaced this person with a CPA, so an accountant, to help the finance situation of the RM," says newly elected De Salaberry Reeve Darrel Cure.
Cure adds council will be reviewing its remuneration by-law before the new year, which covers things like council's expenses and wages. He explains the current CAO, who was hired in 2016, has made improvements since the day she began. "Some of the changes that we’ve seen through the years, we don’t even really notice them because we’re already doing some of the stuff better than in the past and I think that’s for every council. They always try to do things differently to better themselves."
A majority of the current councillors were not a part of council when decisions were made under the period reviewed.
To view the report, see pages 47-66: RM of De Salaberry Audit of Financial Irregularities