On the heels of the announcement today that the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) had completed a review of its financial transactions from 2010 to 2015, the current mayor of the City of Kingston has voiced concerns about the review’s findings.
Amongst the expenditures found in that review process, which current KEDCO CEO Donna Gillespie stated “would not be approved under the current administrative policies and procedures of the organization,” were a number of questionable items, an inordinate amount spent on hospitalities, food, and substantial sums spent at an adult entertainment venue.
According to the findings of the review, $2,358 was spent at The Original Six Sports Bar at 46 Montreal Street (which was, at the time, also the site of the Plaza Gentleman’s Lounge) across 22 visits. Gillespie said that those expenses were identified as a direct review of the corporate card expenses of previous KEDCO CEO, Jeff Garrah.
Although current Mayor Bryan Paterson was not mayor of Kingston at the time that was reviewed (the mayor at the time was now MP Mark Gerretsen), Paterson did not take the findings of the review lightly.
“I’m angry, and, quite frankly, I’m appalled. As mayor, I think that the examples of spending that have been highlighted today are a completely unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars,” Paterson said.
“Honestly, I think that what’s come to light confirms just how much the review of KEDCO in 2015 was needed, and I know that certainly the current leadership at KEDCO has been very clear today that those kind of expenses would never be approved today, which I think is important.”
Paterson expressed that he will be taking steps to look into Kingston Economic Development’s current policies and procedures around spending.
“I will be speaking with members of the Board in the days ahead to ensure that there are no further gaps and that processes are as strong as they can be to ensure that this never happens again,” he said.
“I think it’s imperative that the community has confidence that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately.”
When asked if he felt any action should be taken moving forward given the misuse of funds, Paterson underlined the immediate need to ensure current policies will not allow such spending to take place again.
“Certainly I’ll be consulting with the KEDCO Board, and I’ll be consulting with my colleagues at Council, as well, but for me, just that assurance that that spending review process is very different now, and that there’s integrity in the process to ensure that that sort of spending can’t happen again, that, I think, is the priority, and everyone needs to have confidence in it,” he said.
Kingstonist has reached out to both former KEDCO CEO, Jeff Garrah, and former mayor (and current MP) Mark Gerretsen for comment, however, at time of press, neither had responded. We will continue to look into the findings of Economic Development’s review of expenditures from 2010 to 2015, and provide updates as more information becomes available.
With files from Cris Vilela.