Midland Carrying SSEA $300,000 Deficit
Stevens, Millar defeat Kramp for chair, vice-chair
By Sandy Agnew AWARE News Network January 19 2012
Midland Deputy Mayor Stephan Kramp wasted no time in challenging the status quo at his first meeting as the newly appointed member to the Severn Sound Environmental Association Board. Kramp, who had not been notified of the meeting until he inquired about it two days before the meeting, accepted the nomination for chair by Orillia Councillor Andrew Hill. Councillor Ron Stevens, the current Vice-Chair, had already been nominated by correspondence by the absent Tay Councillor Dave Ritchie.
SSEA staff appeared to be unprepared for an actual election. Keith Sherman, SSEA Executive Director, conducting the election, had to be reminded by Kramp that the candidates have an opportunity to address the board. In his comments, Stevens cited his experience as a member and Vice-Chair of SSEA. Stevens is the former Mayor of Orillia, the only Lake Simcoe municipality not to join the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.
In a prepared speech, Kramp outlined his vision for upgrading the SSEA and noted “There are two main challenges.
1. What is our future direction as an organization? 2. How do we retain and expand our integrity as an accountable and effective organization?”
Regarding the strategic planning process currently underway, Kramp said “A public process of community engagement that fully engages the expertise of our residents and our staff will provide the potential of a plan that is embraced and enthusiastically supported by our Municipalities and our residents. There is no more significant a project than our strategic planning process for the future of the SSEA.”
Addressing the integrity of the SSEA. Kramp stated “To this end, I would support having staff reports attached to our meeting agenda and made available to committee members with enough time for us to do our homework and effectively prepare for meetings. I would support having the agenda and reports available to the public in advance of meetings, which is the best practice at Municipal Councils throughout Simcoe County.”
However the vote for chair went to Stevens. Then Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor Pat Marion nominated Kramp for Vice-Chair running against the absent Tiny Mayor Ray Millar also nominated by correspondence by Dave Ritchie. The status quo prevailed there as well, with Millar taking the Vice-Chair job.
But the big bombshell to come to the meeting was the appearance of the Midland Town auditor Glenn Ventrcek of BDO. Ventrcek raised concerns about the financial reporting procedures of the SSEA that have produced an accumulated deficit of $306,000 over several years. In response to a question from Kramp, Midland Treasurer Marc Villeneuve, also present, explained that Midland has been carrying this deficit from its own reserves and charging SSEA interest of 1.725%.
When asked by Kramp if the previous SSEA board was aware of this reporting issue, Ventrcek responded that he had raised this problem back in 2010.
Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor Pat Marion asked how the SSEA would be able to repay this deficit, to which Sherman responded that he expects to sell SSEA Source Protection data to the Ministry of Environment.
When Kramp questioned the 10% increase in Midland’s share of the SSEA budget, he was told that that was in line with the SSEA agreement. On a recorded vote, Kramp was the only member to vote against the 2013 budget.
The strategic planning process was also discussed, at which time Kramp asked if the community was going to be engaged in preparing the strategic plan, to which Sherman responded that there was no budget allocation for community input.
I have most of the meeting recorded on video if anyone wants to view it. The next SSEA meeting has been scheduled for April 19, 2013.