Nova Scotia

Kelly disputes concert promoter's story

Mayor Peter Kelly is dismissing a concert promoter's version of a secret deal to keep the Black Eyed Peas show on the Halifax Common.

Mayor Peter Kelly is dismissing a concert promoter's version of a secret deal to keep the Black Eyed Peas show on the Halifax Common.

Power Promotional Events Inc. got $400,000 of city money after a meeting with Kelly and Wayne Anstey, the acting chief administrative officer, last year.

Promoter Harold MacKay insists the two city officials offered to help the struggling July concert. He said he never threatened to pull the plug on the show as previously claimed.

"We never threatened to cancel. We never put a gun to anybody's head," MacKay told CBC News. "The city was very good. They were looking for ways to help us."

He said $13 million was on the line in economic spin-off, should the concert not go ahead. Because of that, both he and the city wanted the show to go ahead.

MacKay said Kelly tended to be in and out of meetings, so he could not clearly recall if the mayor had been present when the $400,000 was discussed. He said all parties believed they would sell enough tickets to repay the money, but that if sales fell below a certain marker the loan would be forgiven.

Kelly remembers it differently

Kelly disputes MacKay's story.

"That's not the recollection that I recall," he told CBC News on Monday.

"All this information is certainly in the hands of the auditor and we certainly await his report to indicate what he deems has occurred."

The meeting took place the day before Anstey advanced MacKay $400,000 in a payment that was not authorized by regional council. The money was paid through Metro Centre Ltd., a Crown corporation.

When the concerts failed to sell enough tickets, the Halifax Regional Municipality was left on the hook for $359,550.

Larry Munroe, the HRM's auditor general, said his department is looking at all concert-related financial transactions between the municipality and MacKay since 2008.

"One of the team members that we have working on this has her focus completely following the money," Munroe said.

He said his team is beginning to interview staff at City Hall.

Anstey stepped down on Friday after an investigation by the auditor general found that he broke municipal rules by providing the grant, as well as $1.8 million in cash advances that has been repaid.

There are no allegations of criminal activity in the funding deals.

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