Tehkummah spending freeze cancels Easter Egg donation

TEHKUMMAH—A motion at the February 13 meeting of Tehkummah council implemented a freeze on spending on anything other than day-to-day operations. The same meeting saw the township’s corporate credit card cancelled effective immediately and intense scrutiny over all purchases. In fact, where one purchase made in January on the corporate credit card did not have a supporting invoice, council moved that the one who approved the purchase would be billed for same.

At the February 20 council meeting, a request for support from the Manitoulin Fine Arts Association for the 24th annual Manitoulin Art Tour was denied. A request by the Royal Canadian Legion for support for the Remembrance Day book project (by sponsoring an advertisement space in the Military recognition book) was not outright denied as Council resolved to revisit that donation in May. At the bank’s suggestion, it was resolved that the corporate credit card be suspended and not cancelled. Operational expenses were once again subject to scrutiny.

At the March 6 meeting, Councillor Paul Bowerman expressed his concerns once again. “We don’t know where we are financially,” he said. “Could we not tender for a temporary accountant to monitor our accounts until our finances stabilize?”

Councilor Ron Hierons pointed out that the township had a clerk-treasurer on staff, with finances included in her responsibilities. “An accounting firm would cost $2-300 per hour,” he said. “We’re trying to save money.”

Councillor Bowerman replied, “We’re still working without budgets for anything. That’s poor management on our part.”

Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Barb Deforge noted that she had received budgets from two departments to date. Councillor Mike McKenzie urged her to hurry the others along.

A motion to deny a request for a donation for the community Easter egg hunt had Councillor Hierons offering money from his own pocket and Councillor Bowerman offering his honourarium.

The February 20 letter from community members Linda Bowerman, Yogi Martin and Rhonda Middaugh read, “We as volunteers would like to see the Easter egg hunt continue in our community. So, we are willing to do this event and are requesting a donation once again from council to make this happen. We did run a very successful Easter egg candy hunt for our children of Tehkummah and surrounding areas in the previous years and would hate to see this event fold, as it would be a great disappointment for the children of the community.”

Council has donated $100 to this event in past years.  Councillors Lorie Leeson and Mike McKenzie stated they were not against the Easter egg hunt but they were under a spending freeze. “We’re trying to be accountable,” said Councillor McKenzie. Councillor Bowerman asked if there wasn’t money in the leisure services budget allocation. Councillor Leeson explained that money had been put into the leisure fund but it had come from fundraising. She couldn’t confirm if there were funds available.  In a recorded vote, all councillors were against any donation to the community Easter egg hunt.

Councillor Leeson reminded council that, “if anyone wants to donate to the event, they can.”

“We had to implement the spending freeze,” Reeve Eric Russell explained later. “We have to pay the bills. Once we get things in order we can lift the freeze.  The Easter egg hunt was kind of a sad situation,” he acknowledged.