Fraud suspected in tax billing errors
North Glengarry CAO Daniel Gagnon dropped a bombshell Thursday afternoon when he announced that fraudulent actions may be the cause of problems with the township’s tax billing system.
Since January, North Glengarry has heard from dozens of residents complaining about unusually high tax bills. At first, the municipality believed it was an internal error and even hired an accounting firm to get to the bottom of the matter.
“With the help of the auditors, we suspect that fraud may be involved,” Mr. Gagnon said at the beginning of a preliminary budget discussion in Alexandria’s Sandfield Centre. “Council will hire some forensic auditors.”
The CAO said that auditors from Deloitte, a Torontobased firm, will begin the first phase of the examination next week.
“This is a delicate legal situation and we cannot share any details until the forensic audit is complete,” he said.
The first phase of the audit will likely cost between $8,000 and $15,000. The township is insured for matters like this up to a maximum of $200,000.
Mr. Gagnon reassured councillors that the situation wouldn’t place any additional financial obligations on the budget.
He also assured ratepayers that the township was still working hard to correct any faulty tax bills, adding that another 38 accounts had been reviewed last week.
The problem was red-flagged when pre-authorized pay- ment accounts for 2017 were being set up, the municipality had said when the discrepancies were first discovered.
When they received their interim tax bills, some ratepayers complained that they were being charged interest on overdue taxes, when in fact they were not in arrears.
“We continue to remain committed to being as transparent and accountable as possible to our residents but we cannot comment any further, nor share any details until the forensic audit is complete and Council thoroughly briefed on the results,” Mr. Gagnon said Monday.