by Tristan Turner
In a discussion that was described by Mayor Lisa Holmes as “more interesting than I expected,” Council had a lively debate about the appointment of the Town’s external auditor. For about a decade, Hawkings Epp Dumont has been awarded contracts to audit the Town’s books, with auditor Curtis Friesen. The firm has been auditing the town since 2006.
Council was faced with renewing the contract or putting the contract out to a request for proposal [RFP] Administration’s recommendation was to renew the contract for another three-year period. In a survey of both Administration and Council, the company had received a favourable report for their past year’s work.
The initial motion put forward by Councillor Stephen Dafoe was to put out an RFP from any auditing firms to compete for the Town’s contract. Councillor Dafoe said that he was “impressed” by the work done by Hawkings Epp Dumont and would have no problem utilizing their services again, but he recommended the RFP for the sake of transparency and potential cost savings if there was competition for the contract.
Mayor Holmes disagreed with Councillor Dafoe saying that “this just seems like transparency for transparency’s sake.” Holmes felt because Council and Administration had no problem with their audit, she did not see a problem with utilizing their services again. The Mayor felt she may be supportive of an RFP in the future, but said this may not be the right time with major projects, including the new rec centre in progress. The mayor felt it might cost more time and money to get a new auditor acquainted with the Town’s books according to Mayor Homes; an opinion shared with CFO Andrew Isbister.
In closing his debate for the motion, Councilor Dafoe responded to the Mayor saying “transparency only exists for the sake of transparency.”
With Councillor Putnam absent, Council found itself with a 3-3 tie and a defeated motion with Councillors Dafoe, Turner and Ladouceur voting for the RFP; Councillors Fitzgerald and Boutestein supporting the Mayor’s position.
Afterwards, Council held a vote to award Hawkings Epp Dumont another three-year contract, which again ended in a tie. Councillors Dafoe, Ladouceur and Turner voting against, and once again the remainder of Council in favour.
Because a subsequent motion needed to be substantially different than either of the previous two, Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald proposed what he termed a “compromise.” Fitzgerald’s motion was to give an extension to Hawkings Epp Dumont for one year, saying that after this period with the arena and other major projects, the Town could then put out an RFP. This motion passed 5-1 with Councillor Dafoe opposing.