Citizens group demands forensic audit into town of Pelham finances

Members of a group entitled D.E.B.T., Dave. Enough. Borrowing. Taxes, appeared before Niagara Regional Council last night demanding a full forensic audit of the town's finances.

In an email to our newsroom, the group writes they presented a petition to regional councillors demanding the independent audit and the establishment of  a Citizen Audit Fund to underwrite the $50,000 cost of the financial review.

Curt Harley, a spokesman for D.E.B.T.,  says the residents feel it is morally responsible for the upper tier government to help protect the residents of Niagara.

Harley says the residents also brought forward evidence that brings into question the current and projected financial issues of the new community centre.

Earlier this week, the town of Pelham announced it would conduct a third party audit into another development in East Fonthill.

Last night council voted to send D.E.B.T.'s request to the regional audit committee for a full report.

Here is the email sent to our newsroom:

 

Pelham Citizens Forensic Audit

October 6, 2017

At Niagara Regional Council Mr Harley spoke on behalf of the residents of the Town of Pelham with respect to the lack of trust the residents have in Mayor Dave Augustyn and his Town Council and the business of thedeep forensic audit of the towns financial management.

The residents have united, as one strong voice under the acronym of D.E.B.T[Dave. Enough. Borrowing. Taxes.] and that group came out in force last night supporting a petition with the
terms residents are demanding the Town accept to move forward on with an audit of all the towns financial management.

Those references are;
• A 3 person citizen oversight committee headed by resident Bernie Law will be struck to work with the Regions audit committee and procurement office, which will author the full terms of reference for the audit and engage the Forensic Auditor

• The Residents want the forensic audit to be totally independent from any Town control and the oversight committee will select the auditor, prepare the terms of reference, work with the auditorand receive the final report which will then be shared with the Town and the public, through D.E.B.T.

• The residents asked that the Town co-operate in all ways to facilitate this forensic Audit and that they provide all documents and information requested and that none of the documents be endacted.

• The residents also asked that the Town waive all confidentiality clauses by former Town staff to enable them to speak freely.

• The residents group announced that they have set up a “Citizen Audit Fund” to under right the 50 k payment of the forensic audit.

• Residents insist the Town immediately stop all activity in preparing for the audit until the committeeand the Region have struck the Audit oversight Committee

The residents brought evidence that brings into question the current and projected financial issues of thenew community center.

 It appears the costs are ballooning and the Town is on record stating that they are not tracking what could be millions of dollars in finances variances.

The residents brought evidence and concerns that the Town is perceived most residents to bully and intimidate its own councilors and residents to the point where people are in fear of the Mayor and council.

Mr Harley stated what the residents consider to be the facts and it was apparent the Regional Council listened intently.

The residents feel the Region has some ownership in the matter and it is morally responsible for the uppertier government to help protect the residents of Niagara.

Should Pelham’s management of this huge debt happen to default it will place the financial burden on the all the residents of Niagara not just Pelham.

Mayor Dave Augustyn immediately attempted to push off the claims of residents and continue with the Town orchestrating their own terms of refence for the audit which they want to have a very narrow and limited focus on.

That is not acceptable to residents.