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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Advisory committee to help with future budget talks
Coun. Sandra O'Connor suggests the town bring back the audit and finance committee to support budget talks. EVAN LOREE
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa doesn't want an audit and finance committee. EVAN LOREE

The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is bringing back a subcommittee to examine the town’s finances and advise council on its spending.

After hearing suggestions from Coun. Sandra O’Connor on the matter, council voted in favour of bringing back the audit and finance committee to oversee town spending and guide council during budget talks.

The motion passed in a 5-3 vote at a meeting Nov. 21.

The town had a similar committee under the previous council, which town treasurer Kyle Freeborn said would “explore budget issues.”

In order to do a thorough audit, the committee would need to review contracts, invoices policies and more, Freeborn said.

“You don’t always want to do those in public either,” he added. “There are things that will come to light that are sensitive.”

In addition, Freeborn said that if council wants the new committee to audit finances, it needs an independent auditor to sit in on it.

O’Connor, however, said the previous committee did not need an independent auditor. 

The new committee would be the same as the previous one, being able to explore budget proposals in depth before they reach council, she explained.

“I don’t see why there is a need for an internal auditor,” she added.

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa said he prefers the current approach to the municipal budget, where the whole council reviews it together.

“I am not supportive of asking a subset of council to begin a budget review and guidance and advice to this council,” he said.

Coun. Gary Burroughs said council is not getting “sufficient time” to do its due diligence on behalf of taxpayers.

He had 112 questions on the budget which still needed answering, he said.

“This kind of committee would provide that kind of solution,” Burroughs said.

Councillors Tim Balasiuk and Adriana Vizzari, as well as Zalepa, all voted against.

Burroughs, along with councillors Wendy Cheropita, Maria Mavridis, Nick Ruller and O’Connor all voted in favour.

Coun. Erwin Wiens was absent.

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