It’s the unpleasant cost of doing business and the public sector is not immune.
Huntsville’s General Committee was told in February that the municipality holds an estimated $40,200 in unpaid receivables, part of which committee members were being asked to write off.
We have quite a few and we’re going to be actively looking at those to follow-up and get them out to collections or get them paid out.Treasurer Julia Finch.
Two of those involve Woodland Alliance Inc. and Evanco Properties Ltd. for a sum of about $5,500 for unassumed road maintenance such as snowplowing and sanding dating back to 2012 and 2013. Committee was asked to write those off as per the Town’s Director of Transportation Infrastructure, Jason Krynicki.
Krynicki was not at the meeting but Finch said she believed those companies are either no longer in existence or have since changed hands. Huntsville CAO/Clerk Denise Corry told committee that she would ask Krynicki to provide further information on those.
Other items for write off involved invoices associated with TriMuskoka for the Kids’ Ironman held in 2015, billed by Portage Promotionals and Campbell Bus Lines.
“I understand we’ve got two and three years out writing off non-receivables but we’ve got two on there from 2015 for the Kids’ Ironman,” said Councillor Karin Terziano. “How did we get billed for something that isn’t ours and we paid for it, and how are we writing it off so quickly?” she questioned.
Corry said those events were handled through a committee and a general manager “and it’s my understanding that there may have been a miscommunication through those entities with respect to billing and who has paid what. So in discussions with them we were advised by the chair and the general manager that although those were billable expenses they were actually not going to be collected from… TriMuskoka.”
Corry said the Town of Huntsville was at an arm’s length with respect to services conducted during the event “and the best information we’ve obtained from the committee and the general manager was that these would not be collectable receivables. So, again, us not having full control of that, it’s very difficult for us to know and collect money from an organization that I believe was more or less advised there would not be any charges for that,” she said.
Terziano asked how such a scenario could be prevented in future.
How are we paying for invoices that we’re truly not responsible for? How do we make sure it’s not going to happen in the future? Councillor Karin Terziano
Corry said the incident has taught staff a lesson. “Moving forward we will ensure that there is staff representation on any committee that is running organizations for the Town of Huntsville that has a financial component to it.”
Terziano summed it up: “Pardon the pun but the buck stops with the Town so the sign-off on anything that’s being paid stops with the Town staff not a volunteer?”
“That is correct,” replied Corry.
Councillor Det Schumacher also raised concerns with a number of invoices associated with outdoor advertising by Vision Outdoor Advertising, totaling just over $800. Those were also being recommended to be written off by Krynicki.
Schumacher asked whether the invoices were in a one-application context because the invoices spanned a period from the end of September to the end of October 2012.
“Why are we doing October prior to receiving September amounts?”
Finch said she did not have that particular information and said that too would be brought back to committee for clarification.
Other requested write-offs involved an invoice associated with Algonquin Theatre fees for approximately $700 for the Reel Alternatives Festival, and another $452, also for Theatre fees, associated with the cancellation of Peter and the Wolf as part of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts.
Committee approved the write-offs.
Other sums sitting in uncollected receivables, Finch told Doppler, include unpaid rent at the Canada Summit Centre, unpaid activity fees at the same, and property standard work conducted by the municipality for which it has not yet received payment, among others. In terms of unpaid activity fees at the Canada Summit Centre, Finch said those customers are red flagged and asked to pay their debt before registering for new programming.