Adjala-Tos councillors refuse to apologize for ‘inappropriate behaviour’
Adjala-Tosorontio Coun. Bob Meadows, Deputy Mayor Doug Little and Mayor Mary Small Brett at Thursday council meeting -Alliston Herald photo
CAO Eric Wargel denies Coun. Floyd Pinto’s claims about tax evasion
by Brad Pritchard Alliston Herald
Adjala-Tosorontio councillors Floyd Pinto and Bob Meadows refused to admit any wrongdoing during an intense but brief meeting Thursday night (June 14).
The meeting was to address the recommendations of an integrity investigation that began more than a year ago after they were accused of breaking council’s code of conduct on multiple occasions.
The investigation started last April after Deputy Mayor Doug Little brought forward a list of 20 accusations against the councillors.
The report found they were “disrespectful toward their colleagues” on multiple occasions and their behaviour disrupted business at council and to some degree has created a negative public perception of council.
But the report also stated they were acting “in the best interests” of the municipality and their behaviour was largely due to the shortcomings of the administrative policies and procedures.
The first recommendation was for the councillors to acknowledge inappropriate behaviour in public as a remedial measure, while the second was to have the township hire an independent third party to review its administrative practices and procedures “with a wide-ranging mandate.” However, the recommendation for the review was excluded from the vote.
Council voted 4-2 in favour of the remedial measures (Coun. Scott Anderson was absent), but neither Pinto or Meadows apologized.
Prior to the vote, Pinto asked why the investigator was not there to answer questions.
Mayor Mary Small Brett said his attendance had been requested.
“He decided that his report can stand on its own and he did not need to come,” she said.
Pinto insisted the investigation was nothing more than an attempt by the deputy mayor to punish them for calling for a forensic audit at the township, and also because he contacted the OPP and the Canada Revenue Agency regarding enhancements given to staff and the CAO’s mileage payments.
He then held up documents he received from the OPP after he made a complaint in March of last year about alleged fraud involving the CAO’s mileage claims.
“This document shows we were discussing income tax evasion in an in-camera meeting, this is what this council does behind our backs,” he said.
In an email sent to simcoe.com before the meeting, CAO Eric Wargel said “there is no tax evasion going on.”
Wargel added, “Council has adopted new policies to create greater clarity and better direction with regard to all staff mileage payments, including the requirement for more information on mileage claim forms.”
Pinto started asking questions in 2016 after learning Wargel, who has worked for the township since 1989 and became chief administrative officer in May 2010, allegedly was not submitting detailed invoices for mileage payments.
According to Pinto, Wargel was expensing amounts ranging between $500 to $700 per month allegedly without explaining the destinations or purposes.
Wargel previously told simcoe.com council changed his mileage payments in early 2017 to a fixed monthly amount of about $600.
Deputy Mayor Doug Little said the investigation wasn’t fun for anyone, and he accused Meadows and Pinto of being upset because they didn’t like the answers in the report.
Meadows called the report “incomplete” and questioned why they were never given the chance to meet with the investigator. He said a 170-page binder that was provided to them in August didn’t include specifics.
“How I’m supposed to apologize for allegations I know nothing about?” he asked.
The mayor said the third-party review wasn’t included in the recommendation because it is a budget item.
“It will be very expensive, therefore it would be dealt with in the next budget…and I believe that should be handled by the next council,” she said.
The mayor also told the councillors there is a process for them to appeal the decision.