Committee wants OMB inquiry of Pelham finances

by Allan Benner, The Standard The Ontario Municipal Board may be asked for an inquiry into Pelham’s finances, after Niagara Region’s audit committee members heard from concerned residents Monday. Committee members approved a motion by Niagara Falls Coun. Selina Volpatti to call in the OMB following delegations from residents Nancy Beamer and Bernie Law from […]


ANALYSIS: Post-KPMG questions remain unanswered

Prior even to reading KPMG’s reports, at its last meeting of 2017 Pelham Town Council voted unanimously to reverse its earlier commitment to hold a Town Hall-style meeting, at which residents could ask questions of KPMG, Town staff, and Town Council.

Councillor Gary Accursi, who tabled the motion to stymie further inquiry, said, “I can think of no other questions that could come forward.”

In the weeks since KPMG’s presentation at E. L. Crossley Secondary School, and following the firm’s release of its reports shortly before Christmas, the Voice has identified a number of important issues that remain unresolved.

The Town has said that it will no longer directly respond to inquiries about past finances, requiring such questions to be filed as Freedom of Information requests. Answers to such requests may be legally delayed by 30 days. Based on previous experience, the Town exploits this timetable nearly to the maximum, often then not providing the answers requested. The Voice is aware of at least three denied-FOI appeals against the Town currently filed with the province.

The following remain open issues, ones that may ultimately need to be pursued by other bodies, either Regional or provincial.


The audit that never happened

dollar, 3.3 acre East Fonthill land transaction.

“To make the audit completely independent, Pelham Town Council has retained KPMG Canada to undertake an independent, third-party audit of all transactions and documents related to the parkland over-dedication and the development charge credit agreement,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn at the time.

Yet KPMG’s own documents, released publicly shortly before Christmas, indicate that what was carried out was not, in fact, an audit.

“We have relied upon the completeness, accuracy and fair presentation of all the information obtained,” KPMG states.

“Our calculations and analysis are conditional upon the completeness, accuracy and fair presentation of such Information. KPMG has not audited or otherwise independently verified the accuracy or fair presentation of any of the Information.”

Further, the firm says that its comments “are not intended, nor should they be interpreted to be, legal advice or opinion.”

In its report, KPMG notes two essential assumptions.

The first is that, “all relevant email communications of representatives of the Town regarding the EFDP [East Fonthill Development Project] were provided to KPMG for review.”


Mayor Augustyn, in his own words

On Monday afternoon, November 6, about five hours before Marvin Junkin resigned from Pelham Town Council, the Voice invited Mayor Augustyn to an interview at Peter Piper’s restaurant in Fonthill.

Present were the Mayor, reporter Sam Piccolo, and editor Dave Burket.

The paper wanted to give the Mayor an opportunity to confirm or deny what it had learned from Councillor Junkin about the purported state of Pelham’s finances, based on audit results Junkin asserted were given to Council by KPMG behind closed doors two months earlier, on September 5.

The Mayor was unaware that Junkin planned to resign that evening, or that an article detailing Junkin’s allegations was set to run in our next edition.


Pelham councillor says Junkin “got the figures right”; Reserve funds nearly depleted

In front of some 200 residents in the E.L. Crossley high school cafeteria on Wednesday night, a pair of auditors from the accounting firm KPMG presented the results of two financial reviews of the Town, and Town Treasurer Teresa Quinlin presented a more general report on the state of Pelham’s finances.

While Mayor Dave Augustyn said that he was pleased with the information provided, former Councillor Marvin Junkin’s account of a closed-door September 5 meeting with KPMG was markedly different from the public presentation the firm made on Wednesday. Councillor Peter Papp acknowledged that the presentation was different in tone from what Council previously heard.

“I think that they covered a lot of ground,” said Papp. “They may not have answered all the questions, and if there are some areas that need to be re-stated, we’ll do that.”

As Papp was leaving the cafeteria, a resident confronted him and said, “All you guys on Council are saying that Marvin Junkin’s a big fat liar.”

“No, we’re not,” responded Papp. “He’s not a liar. He got the figures right. It would have been nice if he had stayed with us to get through it all. He’s not a liar…. I have nothing against Marvin.”


The road to $59 million

Former councillor says debt is hidden; Town says financial statements are accurate. Both could be right. BY SAMUEL PICCOLO The VOICE Since former Councillor Marvin Junkin’s resignation, the Town of Pelham has repeatedly asserted that its 2016 audited financial statements are not misstated, an assertion that implies a denial of Junkin’s claim that the Town […]


Audit Committee to Pelham: Release the audit

At an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning, the Niagara Region Audit Committee called on the Town of Pelham to release the audit reportedly conducted by KPMG this summer into Town finances. The audit, which is said to have shown an additional $17 million in hidden debt, was first disclosed by former Councillor Marvin Junkin, who resigned in protest from Pelham Town Council last week.

Committee Chair Tony Quirk began by explaining his rationale for calling the meeting.

“Allegations were made in the local paper,” said Quirk, “and at that time I reached out to the [Region’s] CAO and asked a series of questions covering the impact of the allegations on the Region.”


Pelham councillor explains why he resigned

On Monday evening, Ward 1 Councillor Marvin Junkin resigned his seat on Pelham Town Council. In a move that took the rest of Council and the gallery by surprise, Junkin stood up shortly after the meeting began to deliver a short statement.

“As Council continues down a path that I feel is increasingly unethical and dishonest, I have no choice but to resign my position effective immediately,” he said, before walking over to Town Clerk Nancy Bozzato and handing her his letter of resignation. Junkin immediately left Council chambers, leaving a visibly incredulous Mayor Augustyn and five remaining councillors in silence.

Junkin’s resignation did not come as a surprise to the Voice.


Junkin resigns from Pelham Town Council

Ward 1 Councillor Marvin Junkin has resigned from Pelham Town Council.

At the start of tonight’s scheduled Council meeting, Junkin rose from his seat and made a short statement.

“As Council continues down a path that I feel is increasingly unethical and dishonest, I have no choice but to resign my position effective immediately,” he said, before walking around the Council table to deliver what was evidently his letter of resignation to the Town Clerk.


Some housekeeping: Oversight Committee, Pelham tax increases

In last week’s edition of the Voice it was reported that the Oversight Committee finally was heard from, publicly, or at least in a recorded Council meeting. The Chair of the Committee reported on progress, and bricks, and then made a strange comment about Mississauga. He stated that a friend of his told him that the Hershey Centre, in Mississauga, was the same size as the new double arenas being built here in Pelham. He was told that this centre cost $80 million 15 years ago. He then stated that Mississauga had a population of 600,000 and we, with 16,000, were going to build our arenas for half that price. I was curious, so I looked it up. After about a 10-minute search I found the following:

The Hershey Centre is a single pad arena with 5,000 seats. It is the home of the OHL Steelheads. It was started in 1998 and completed later that year at a cost of $22 million. ($30 million in 2016 dollars)

In 2007 the Hershey Sports Zone was built. It contains two indoor full-sized soccer fields, a full-sized basketball court, a gymnastics centre and two outdoor soccer fields.

The Iceland Sports Centre, next door, contains four indoor rinks—three NHL-sized and one International-sized, with seating for 275 in the three NHL rinks and 1,200 for the International rink.