November 26, 2022

Donalds Hobby

World Finance Reviews

Chestermere probes ‘bloated’ employee payouts amounting to $600K

This is the second internal investigation the city has launched within the last week

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The City of Chestermere is undertaking another internal probe of its own financials — the second it has launched in as many weeks — this time looking into what it’s calling “unusual” employee payouts, claiming a combined total of $600,000 went to two former staffers after they quit.

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The beleaguered city council — already under provincial investigation by the Department of Municipal Affairs for multiple alleged improprieties within the current government — voted Tuesday to hire a third party to assist in investigating two packages given to employees after they resigned, one amounting to $400,000 and another $200,000. The city didn’t provide a time frame for those payouts nor the positions to which they relate.

In a news release on Tuesday, officials said city policy necessitates council approval before making payments of more than $75,000 but claim council never signed off on these packages. Council instructed staff to report back on why that approval didn’t happen for these payouts, whether any additional severance or payouts should be probed, and potential changes to current employment policies, including mandating that one of the city’s three CAOs, the finance manager and the mayor sign off on all payment releases.

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In June, the city quoted Postmedia a $2,152.50 cost to fulfil four requests for information under the FOIP Act, including details on severance packages. The city denied a request for a fee waiver and Postmedia requested a review of the situation from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.

This is the second internal investigation the city has recently launched. The first is probing what officials claim are “millions of dollars” of missing or unaccounted-for funds at its former utility company, Chestermere Utilities Inc. 

“We are asking for the provincial inspection to include the financial irregularities detected at Chestermere Utilities Inc. and the bloated employee payout packages brought to our attention by staff,” said Mayor Jeff Colvin.

City officials did not immediately respond to Postmedia’s requests for comment.

The municipal inspection into the city, the first the province has launched since 2018, is ongoing.

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Twitter: @michaelrdrguez