Re­port crit­i­cizes for­mer Hal­i­fax mayor

Truro Daily News - - ATLANTIC - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

For­mer Hal­i­fax mayor Peter Kelly con­tra­vened Al­berta’s Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act by act­ing with­out coun­cil ap­proval on a con­tro­ver­sial land deal while serv­ing as the chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for West­lock County, ac­cord­ing to a mu­nic­i­pal in­spec­tion re­port re­leased this week.

The in­spec­tion, which was con­ducted by the in­de­pen­dent third party Strate­gic Steps Inc. on be­half of Al­berta’s depart­ment of mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs, also found that Kelly ap­peared to not ex­er­cise “rea­son­able over­sight of cap­i­tal project costs” while serv­ing as CAO.

The re­port states that Kelly, who was hired last year as Charlottet­own’s CAO, took ac­tions such as ne­go­ti­at­ing an in­dus­trial land lease and au­tho­riz­ing site im­prove­ments “in the ab­sence of an au­tho­riz­ing coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.” Kelly served as the West­lock County CAO from Septem­ber 2014 to March 2016.

“Mr. Kelly seemed to feel that di­rec­tion given in cam­era was suf­fi­cient for ac­tion, which is not ac­cu­rate and con­tra­venes the MGA (Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act) which re­quires a coun­cil to act by res­o­lu­tion or by­law,” said the re­port.

Kelly was taken off his pro­ba­tion­ary pe­riod with the City of Charlottet­own in June.

SaltWire Network reached out to Kelly and Charlottet­own Mayor Clif­ford Lee for com­ment on the re­port.

“We’ve just re­ceived the re­port and are in the process of read­ing through the doc­u­men­ta­tion,” said a city spokesper­son. “And in terms of com­ment we haven’t had time to re­view the whole doc­u­ment yet.” West­lock County Reeve Don Sav­age said the re­port was straight­for­ward in show­ing that Kelly “took public funds and spent them with­out coun­cil’s ap­proval.”

“I don’t know why he would choose to spend un­bud­geted money. It isn’t some­thing that ever went through coun­cil; he said it was in cam­era,” said Sav­age. “He did a very poor job of look­ing af­ter the peo­ple of West­lock County in my view.”

De­spite his con­cerns, Sav­age does not feel there will be any le­gal ac­tion com­ing out of the re­port.

Last year, Kelly was ac­cused of be­ing re­spon­si­ble for a $200,000 bill con­nected to de­vel­op­ing an eight-acre in­dus­trial park for a developer known as Hori­zon North.

The county spent more than $375,000 to de­velop the land but based on mar­ket trends stood to lose more than $200,000 on the deal due to cost over­runs.

Dur­ing a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view, Kelly de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion and said coun­cil gave him the di­rec­tion to move for­ward.

How­ever, the re­port stated the project be­gan with sig­nif­i­cant work be­ing com­pleted prior to for­mal ap­proval by coun­cil.

The re­port also stated that, at times, it ap­peared that Kelly “did not ex­er­cise rea­son­able over­sight of cap­i­tal project costs.”

“At other times, Mr. Kelly ap­par­ently by­passed man­agers and di­rected sub­or­di­nate staff, such as re­quir­ing a clerk to cre­ate and can­cel cer­tain in­voices for the Hori­zon North project,” said the re­port.

How­ever, the re­port also notes that Kelly was held in high re­gard by some West­lock County coun­cil­lors, with one coun­cil­lor stat­ing that the CAO was “very re­spon­si­ble.”

The re­port also paints the county as hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant in­sta­bil­ity in the past coun­cil term with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity be­ing “man­aged in an ir­reg­u­lar, im­proper and im­prov­i­dent man­ner” while also ref­er­enc­ing a “coun­cil against staff ” cul­ture.

“I don’t know why he would choose to spend un­bud­geted money. It isn’t some­thing that ever went through coun­cil; he said it was in cam­era.”

West­lock County Reeve Don Sav­age

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