Former councillor rebukes BLR Council during contentious meeting and calls for investigation

Brudenell Lyndoch and Raglan (BLR) Council continued their discussion of the cost of roadway materials during an unruly meeting held on October 7th. Councillor Andrea Budarick and Councillor Trevor Lidtkie posed some tough questions to both administration and roads department staff during a heated debate that was punctuated by raised voices and pregnant silences. Even allowing for audio difficulties, explanations and answers were somewhat thin on the ground. Coincidentally, the same meeting began with a deputation from former Councillor Rick Clements who, as a taxpayer, raised concerns about two issues. First, Clements had questions about three instances of errors in property tax billing where property in the municipality was sold. Then, Clements asked Council to demonstrate transparency and accountability under the terms of BLR’s Procurement By-Law, particularly in regards to tendering requirements. After the meeting, Clements told The Current that he had been unaware that this very topic was discussed by BLR Council at their September meeting. Click HERE for The Current’s report.

Clements’ questions

Clements asked three questions of Council. “Is there anyone on this Council that thinks they or the township employees don’t have to abide by these rules?” (referring to tendering requirements) When his question was met with silence, Clements said, “OK, good.”

He then asked, “Are there any material instances where anyone [on Council or staff] have not followed these rules?” After some councillors answered in the affirmative, he repeated the question to Mayor Sheldon Keller, who answered, “Yes.”

Finally, Clements asked Council as a whole, “What Councillors support not abiding by the rules?”  After a chorus of “Not me” from several members, Clements asked Keller, “Then why is it that we’re doing this?” Keller replied, “I would say that it’s been the general practice for a number of years.”

Clements would not accept Keller’s excuse that the practice had been in place before he became mayor, saying, “You’re in office now. You’re the mayor…. just because nobody did in the past, doesn’t cut it.”

More bills for roads construction

During the report from Roads Superintendent Charlie Behm, Budarick and Lidtkie challenged Behm and Township Clerk Michelle Mantifel on how invoices were scrutinized and approved before being submitted to Council for approval to pay. Budarick quizzed Mantifel and Behm saying, “Certain bills are getting scrutinized; so why does this one not get scrutinized?” They reiterated questions asked last month about the calculations used on the bills, and Lidtkie noted, “We also have some payments tonight for another $90,000. What the hell is going on?”

During further cross-examination of Behm by Budarick, the following exchange took place.

Budarick: “How did you and this company decide it was $15.75 a tonne?”

Behm: “Because that was the price.”

Budarick: “Did they set the price or did you set the price? Did you have a discussion about the price?”

Behm: “It’s not my pencil; I don’t set the price.”

Keller asked Behm whether he had a copy of the Procurement By-Law and he replied, “I’m not 100 percent sure if I have it or not.”

There was disagreement between the administration and roads departments about how the process works and who had final responsibility for reviewing the invoices that Lidtkie and Budarick were asking about. Behm maintained that the bill went to the main office first and he wasn’t given a copy, while Mantifel pointed out his initials on the bill, saying he had reviewed it.

After some delays while members of Council did their own calculations, the meeting moved on to other staff reports (Building, Recreation). By 11:02 p.m. Keller called it a night, saying that BLR Council would have to meet again on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. to finish the rest of the Agenda. 

Clements later told The Current, “There is more to this that warrants investigation.”

Above: BLR yard Quadeville Road, photo google.maps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *