N.S. Ombudsman says Guysborough County spending built for ‘personal advantage’

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A Nova Scotia Ombudsman’s report on spending in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough says a “concerning dynamic” existed around overall responsibility and accountability among councillors for travel and expense spending.

The report finds no wrongdoing, but says the system was built for “personal advantage” and allowed officials access to a form of short term loan and indiscriminate purchasing on corporate credit cards, including alcohol and various meals at restaurants.

It was also critical of council’s travel policy, highlighting a 2014 Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Niagara Falls attended by 30 delegations from Nova Scotia.

Guysborough sent six delegates at a cost of $24,580.15, the largest expense by any delegation and much more than the Halifax Regional Municipality, which sent three delegates at a cost of $7,615.

The report also highlighted spending by longtime warden and now provincial cabinet minister Lloyd Hines, and notes a significant jump in mileage, meals and accommodation costs covering the period 2009-2010 to 2011-2012.

It says Hines’ costs for travel and related expenses, including corporate credit card charges, during that period jumped from a total of $16,394 to $44,404.

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