The Village of Morrin council voted in favour of revising their 2019 Audited Financial statements in addition to assigning their auditor to work closely with Chief Administrative Officer Annette Plachner.
The decision was made at a special council meeting held via teleconference Sept. 11.
After about two and a half hours of private deliberations with the auditor, Monica Faupel of Endeavor Professions Chartered Accountants, councillors returned to a public meeting and passed this motion: “Endeavour will assist the CAO with internal control efficiencies and other matters reported as a result of the 2019 audit, although non-material adjustments (now) Sept. 10, salary and benefits, will be adjusted to reflect additional benefits received by the CAO. Endeavor will forward updated disclosures to Alberta Municipal Affairs and will return to council for approval.”
However, it wasn’t clear what the exact vote count was.
Mayor Howard Helton stated that Endeavor will remain in that position despite resigning that post in an email Sept. 9 (see below).
Apparently the Village of Morrin’s 2019 Audited Financial Statements were uploaded to the provincial government before the village council saw or approved them at a council meeting.
The internet link to the document was forwarded to the ECA Review by a resident of Morrin.
Mayor Helton, in an interview Sept. 14, stated the meeting was held largely in closed session because the management letter attached to the Audited Financial Statements must be discussed privately.
He also noted the next step in the process is for CAO Plachner and Endeavor to move forward as council instructed.
Typically, the process in Alberta for auditing a municipality’s annual financial statement begins with the CAO preparing the financial statement; forwarding the information to the approved auditor; the auditor examining the financial statement and preparing a report; the CAO and auditor presenting the audited financial statement to council; council ratifying the audited financial statement; and, the audited financial statement being forwarded by staff to the provincial government.
In another development in Morrin council’s efforts to obtain the 2019 audited Financial Statements, the village auditor resigned. The resignation was done in a Sept. 9 email forwarded to the ECA Review.
“Again as indicated in correspondence yesterday, the actions taken to achieve compliance with Alberta Municipal Affairs were procedures that have been taken over the past several years and were in no way meant to be in contravention of policy and procedure,” stated the email by Monica Faupel of Endeavor Professional Chartered Accountants, who noted the company has been the village’s auditor for 20 years.
“Unfortunately, the upload was uploaded very quickly and available to be viewed prior to approval which is very unfortunate, however, this does not change the financial statements and the results of operations at the Municipality.
“I cannot help but see and feel the hostility at the village between Mayor and Council, CAO and the ratepayers over the past several years.
“I can no longer be a part of the organization in the capacity as auditor as I am simply trying to help and be of assistance to the Municipality in moving forward, however, the hostility and negativity has hindered this progression. As a result, I officially resign as the Village of Morrin auditor.”
The decision to resign was reversed during the closed session.
The next regular meeting of council is scheduled for Wed. Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. via teleconference to meet pandemic guidelines.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter