Fraud sus­pected in tax billing er­rors

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY STEVEN WARBURTON News Staff

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.

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