Nova Scotia

Richmond County council defeats credit card audit motion

Richmond County council has rejected a motion calling for a forensic audit of councillors' spending on their municipal credit cards.

Concerns raised after auditor does random check of councillors' credit cards over four-month period

The motion called for an audit of municipal credit card usage. (CBC)

Council for the Municipality of the County of Richmond has rejected a motion calling for a forensic audit to look into spending by councillors.

River Bourgeois-area Coun. Gilbert Boucher tabled the motion. He said it stemmed from a management letter prepared by municipal auditor Grant Thornton.

That audit, he said, included random checks on the use of municipal credit cards by councillors over a four-month period. He says he didn't like what he saw. 

"There was interest being paid on credit cards, hotel rooms charged with no indication of business purposes," he said.

Boucher says the list also included airline ticket changes for a spouse, valet parking and liquor store charges.

He says a tie vote of five to five meant the motion did not pass, which he finds disturbing.

"You have people now looking ... under the Freedom of Information Act for the same information," he says.

"If you would have had a forensic audit, you could put that out in the public and ease their minds, or show them what's going on."

'Nothing of a fraudulent or more serious nature'

L'Ardoise-area Coun. Steve Sampson voted against the motion. He says the management letter simply included advisories about how controls around expenses could be tightened up.

"Certainly nothing, absolutely nothing of a fraudulent or more serious nature," he said. 

He says councillors provided explanations for their credit card charges and the auditors made it clear a forensic examination was not necessary. He calls the motion "ludicrous."

"A review of policies might be needed in some areas," he said. "But certainly nothing that would warrant a more, very costly investigation. Totally, totally unnecessary."

Warden Victor David voted in favour of the audit but said, as far as he's concerned, the vote puts the issue to rest.

"The outcome, I have to live with it because it's a democratic process. The vote was defeated, so you move on."