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Governance Audit shows mistrust between City admin and new council

A third party governance audit commissioned by city council shows a lack of trust and respect between members of Council and city administration.

In late February, Lloydminster City Council voted to bring in consultant George Cuff to conduct the audit of the Border City. From March 6th to 24th, Cuff & Associates surveyed and did in person and phone interviews with current and former City Staff members, including management and Council members.

The review says auditors found councillors feel the issues most important to them aren’t being addressed, and that their hand is being forced to make some decisions without enough information. Some members of council say they feel resistance from administration when questions are asked, and that they’ve been misled into approving the dissolution of the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation.

At the same time, members of administration seem to feel that with six out of seven council members new to council, they’re having a hard time making decisions and their more “operational style” of questioning is leading to unnecessary delays. Staff say council need to define their expectations and create a clear vision instead of focusing on undoing the past.”

Key findings from the auditors include the belief that there’s, “some degree of uncertainty as to what the role [of council] should be and how can this council be effective.” The auditor says it’s disappointing that the review has found that city council isn’t expected to lead, and instead approve what’s put in front of them as “management knows what needs to be done.”

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It’s believed that relationships between members of Council and administration evolved during the election campaign and in some instances even earlier than that date. During the course of the last term some candidates began asking questions or expressing opinions through social media. The report concludes that council needed to determine its degree of confidence in its CAO/City Manager, as that question “impacts everything else that Council will do over its term of office.”

Former CAO Glenn Carroll was relieved of his duties late last month after the City Audit was reviewed by Council. Mayor Gerald Aalbers didn’t outline what information from the audit specifically played a part in that decision but says the third party review played a role in the choice to end the city manager’s contract.

Cuff & Associates has made several recommendations to the city, which include switching to a model of governance that uses Committee of the Whole meetings to ensure council has enough information to make decisions. It’s also recommended that there be an audit of the City’s actions and decisions from 2010 to 2017 relating to senior management expense accounts and expenditures authorized without council’s approval through the budget process or specific motions.

The full report can be found in the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting, starting on page 23.

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