Guysborough CAO addresses expense criticisms

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – In his monthly report to MODG council last week, CAO Barry Carroll addressed what he said are “misrepresentations” in social media about expense reimbursements. “We have also found ourselves to be a target on social media by primarily a couple of residents who regularly post incorrect or one-sided information on a Facebook site,” he wrote in his report.

“The facts speak for themselves,” Carroll said. “This is no Richmond County! We lead the province’s municipalities in almost all of the financial indicators...We have been, and will continue to be, a model for other municipalities to follow in the province. We have only ever had clean audits.”

In addressing statements made in social media, the CAO notes that the MODG “is its own incorporated body and as such is able to make its own decisions on where it spends its funds, within the realm of all governing policies and legislation.” He stated that no staff member gets paid mileage to travel to and from work, and no municipal travel claims have every been paid out in U.S. funds.

“Our Municipality became only the 5th Municipality in the Province to approve the posting of the Warden, Deputy Warden, and Councillor expenses online on a monthly basis,” he said.

The CAO said false information made its way into the NS legislature: “The PC Party of Nova Scotia also made a couple of accusations in the House about the CAO purchasing personal luggage when in fact it was a briefcase/laptop/documentation storage bag bought for work and still in use today.”

Carroll said he also wanted to respond to a claim an individual made in media interviews, about having to speak up because staff of the municipality or their families are afraid to because of how it might impact their jobs. “Well, Mr. Warden, Deputy Warden, and Council I want to say to you that this is a completely false statement and is another case where an individual can make a statement without any evidence or from the fact that the person making the statement is not accountable to anyone...The dedication that our staff shows to our residents is evident on a daily basis and they work closely with each of you for the betterment of our community.”

Following complaints by residents last year, the provincial Ombudsman’s office has been investigating expense payments at the municipality. After the adoption of new expense-related policies at MODG’s Nov. 2 meeting, Carroll contacted the Ombudsman’s office to share these policies and encourage “them to move on the file as it has been almost 12 months since they took the original documents from our offices.” Staff from the Ombudsman’s office were expected at the municipal offices this week to carry out further work.

The CAO said residents gave the council their vote of confidence in last month’s municipal elections, returning all councillors to their seats.