KEDCO completes Freedom of Information Request from ‘Friends of Kingston’

Kingston Economic Development Board Chair Dave Carnegie and CEO Donna Gillespie at a press conference on Thursday, Jul. 25, 2019. Photo by Cris Vilela.

The Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) confirmed today that it has fulfilled a Freedom of Information request filed by local citizen group ‘Friends of Kingston.’, with findings that have led to significant changes to the way that the organization does business.

At a press conference on Thursday, Jul. 25, 2019 held at Innovation Park, Kingston Economic Development CEO Donna Gillespie announced the fulfillment of the formal request for access to records pertaining to KEDCO’s financial transactions from 2010 to 2015, which was filed by Friends of Kingston. The request also included access to a list of all third-party contractors, reimbursement for expenses claimed by employees, corporate credit card statements, and copies of all reports presented to the KEDCO Finance Committee during that period of time. The review found that an inordinate amount was spent for food and hospitality, including substantial sums at a local adult entertainment venue.

“As part of this process, the Kingston Economic Development Corporation has identified staff expenditures that would not be approved under the current administrative policies and procedures of the organization,” KEDCO stated in a press release issued at the press conference.

“It’s fair to say that when I became Interim CEO in September 2015, we worked very hard to respond to issues being raised in the community for a new and different KEDCO. We changed our approach on how we do business,” Gillespie said.

“Corporate policies were reviewed and tightened to increase accountability measures. A service level agreement between Kingston Economic Development and the City of Kingston with performance measures was put in place with regular reporting on activity and budget.”

Economic Development Board Chair Dave Carnegie, an environmental engineer and co-owner of Malroz Engineering, expressed gratitude for having gone through the lengthy process of completing the Freedom of Information Request, which included appeals procedures and cost KEDCO just over $10,000.

“We have to thank Friends of Kingston for initiating what has ultimately turned out to be an insightful exercise. Due in part to the efforts of the 2016 Review Committee, and in combination with consistent effort by our current CEO, we are confident in our current policies and procedures as they relate to employee expenses,” Carnegie said.

“Our focus is on delivering investment and business support to the City of Kingston. We will continue to work with our partners in the community to share the positive message about economic opportunities that Kingston has to offer.”

Kingston Economic Development pointed to some significant changes that have been put in place since 2015, including that:

  • All CEO expenses must be reviewed (in detail) and authorized by two Board signing authorities.
  • All employee corporate credit card expenses, including detailed monthly statements, are submitted to the Finance Committee for review.
  • No alcohol may be expensed for meetings or events without prior approval.
  • Hospitality activity must be linked to corporate performance measures outlined in our Service Level Agreement with the City of Kingston.

Kingstonist is continuing to review documents released by Kingston Economic Development and historical documents. More information to come.

With files from Cris Vilela.

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