City Hall is conducting a review of their ethical guidelines and purchasing/procurement policy.
The city passed the motion in a special meeting of council, held to address the controversy surrounding the city’s contract with former mayor Jeff Mulligan’s company, AHHA moments. The city says the review will be conducted by city administration, to match up with the changes expected from Alberta’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ review of ethical guidelines contained in the Municipal Government Act.
Mayor Rob Saunders says that council regrets approving the contract.
“It was a mistake, and I guess the existing code of conduct didn’t serve us well, and the policies and procedures that were in place today did not serve us well,” Saunders said. “Hence, we will be enhancing both those plans and procedures so we have the best possible safeguards [against] something like this ever happening again.”
City Manager Glenn Carroll oversaw the drawing up of the contract signed by Mulligan on the same day he announced his resignation as mayor. He says he never foresaw the problems that arose from the contract.
“At the time, it was in the best interests of the city that we looked at,” Carroll said. “We had someone with the skills that could do what we needed to get done, and under those ethical guidelines and our purchasing policy, it allowed me to do that. We realize it was a mistake, we’re moving forward, and with council’s corrective action today, we won’t let that happen again.”
Carroll also says that he doesn’t remember who approached who to propose the arrangement between Mulligan’s company and the city, and that he doesn’t remember why the contract wasn’t put out to tender.
Councillor Linnea Goodhand was a member of council when the contract was approved. She says the contract was legal, but that it was a mistake.
“It was executed in good faith,” Goodhand said. “I think it does not pass the sniff test that we’ve all been talking about today, but at the end of the day the decision that was made to buy it out, and to sever that relationship, I supported that decision. I wanted that relationship over, I wanted that contract done, and if it cost us $120,000 to do it, unfortunate, absolutely, from the taxpayers’ point of view, but if it comes back into our coffers today, no harm done on that end.”
Mulligan issued a press release on Thursday, October 8, apologizing for signing the contract, and that he would pay back the $120,000 cancellation fee he was paid for terminating the arrangement. He also says that he understand why residents are concerned, and that a “mandated cooling period” between sitting on City Council and becoming a contractor for the city, would have led to a “more satisfactory outcome”.