By Rhonda Massad
During Baie d’Urfé’s July 10 town council meeting, resident Gaetano Ionata asked Mayor Maria Tutino why the town has not responded to his access to information requests about the town’s purchase of a heavy-duty truck that will be used by its emergency response team.
“We are understaffed in town clerk department,” replied Baie d’Urfé director general Nathalie Hadida.
“You will get further answers as soon as we get more staff, “ Mayor Tutino promised.
Under Quebec’s access to information law, municipalities are required to provide the documentation within 20 days of a request.
Ionata said that he does not understand why the town is not more forthcoming about the purchase and believes that the Baie d’Urfé’s lack of transparency raises important questions about the integrity of the acquisition process.
During the meeting, Councilor Peter Fletcher also asked the mayor to explain why she had disbanded the town’s finance committee.
“I disbanded the committee because of statements made by yourself at the last two meetings, “ Tutino replied, “especially the meeting in June when your response with regards to a citizen’s question concerning long term debt was inaccurate and did not in any way reflect the town’s true financial situation.
Fletcher retorted that he had simply made an offhanded remark.
“My answer was facetious,” he asserted. “Obviously you had identified the $3.5 million debt.”
The tension was part of a simmering dispute over transparency at Baie d’Urfé town hall. As reported in The Suburban last week, Fletcher questioned Tutino’s decision not to translate the’s town’s audit report into English.
“We requested that the auditors report be published in both official languages, as we are a town that is bilingual, in the interest of transparency,” Fletcher stated. “I am very disappointed with respect to your decision and I am hoping we can have a more transparent process moving forward in our financial matters.”
“Baie d’Urfé has tabled unilingual French reports at its council meetings since the demerger in 2006, as have Senneville, Kirkland and Beaconsfield and possibly all other cities on the island,” Tutino responded.
“An electronic version is sent by the auditors to the Quebec government immediately after the tabling by council,” she added. “The information in the report is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, MAMROT, and is not intended for citizens or council per se.”