As documented in recent Kamloops This Week articles, spending in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District under former CAO Sukh Gill was frequent, inappropriate and exorbitant by any standard, yet the first public comments from board chair Ken Gillis and some board members were to defend this spending.
As the details became public knowledge, the tone of comments from the board began to shift from defence to remorse and reassurance that changes had been made.
We were told these grievous matters were being addressed and policies were being enacted to avoid misuse of funds in the future.
The TNRD board and the TNRD as a government entity has lost much credibility.
Taxpayers are demanding basic ethical practices be upheld and accountability must be transparently reviewed.
Gillis now feels a third-party review will quiet community outrage.
To truly be transparent, it is critical how the third-party review is constructed. The KTW article suggests the board will set the terms of reference, the issues to be investigated and the time-period to be considered.
Given that the TNRD board was beneficiary of much of the spending, the Kamloops Voters Society does not think it is prudent to have the people who were party to the expenditures be solely responsible for directly overseeing the audit.
Further, the suggestion by Gillis to undertake a review comes more than a year after expenditure irregularities were first known by the board and there is concern the review may simply be a ploy by the board to manage public outrage, rather than clearly investigate spending details.
In discussion with the province, and to ensure legitimacy of the review, the Kamloops Voters Society recommends an oversight committee be established among existing Kamloops organizations and external organizations with expertise in government budgeting.
This committee would serve as an arm’s-length, independent party to oversee the review process. The committee would develop the terms of reference, select the audit firm and provide oversight during the review.
In addition, the society would like to see the external review include an assessment of how the TNRD board conducted the CAO’s annual performance reviews and how the board’s oversight of the former CAO’s performance contributed to a further $500,000-plus payment to the former CAO.
Kamloops Voters Society