PENETANGUISHENE – The Town of Penetanguishene managed a budgetary surplus in 2015, but members of council were surprised last week to find some of the money earmarked for work that had already been done.
Councillors discussed how to disburse the $105,000 surplus at their committee-of-the-whole meeting Sept. 28. A recommendation to give nearly $20,000 for renovations to the Penetanguishene Public Library raised concerns.
The money was meant to go toward carpet replacement and an updated security system – projects that had already been completed.
Coun. Dan LaRose said he was “at a complete loss” as to how the library seemingly spent money it did not have.
“No other department would go out and spend that kind of money without those funds in hand,” he said. “How is it they were waiting for a surplus to fund it?”
Last year, a recommended transfer to the library for the renovations from the 2014 surplus did not get approved by council.
Town treasurer Carrie Robillard said this information was not passed on to the library board, which moved ahead with the work.
“I guess I would take the blame for that part of it,” she said. “They didn’t spend money they consciously knew was not there. I thought we were all on the same page as to how we would handle the surplus and we weren’t.”
Although several councillors expressed displeasure at the way the situation was handled, they voted to give the library the money.
“If they came to me in advance of it coming to this, I would have supported it,” said Mayor Gerry Marshall. “Obviously, something slipped through the cracks here, but the situation in front of us is the situation in front of us.”
After approving the library request and $10,000 toward a new CT scanner at Georgian Bay General Hospital, councillors split the remainder of the money between debt repayment and a transfer to the 2017 capital fund.
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