Greater Sudbury Police asked the OPP to look into the case earlier this year after a review by city auditor Brian Bigger revealed that, among other issues, transit management continued to renew contracts with 1211250 Ontario Inc., which operated the transit kiosk, the transit café and the airport café, despite the fact its debt with the city continued to grow year after year. At one point, the company owned the city more than $1 million.
Police Chief Frank Elsner said July 24 he has had no indication when the OPP will be reporting the results of the probe.
“Nothing that we’ve seen yet,” Elsner said. “No indication at all.”
At a city council meeting in June, Elsner said the OPP’s investigation into the provincial Ornge scandal delayed the transit probe. Officers working on the case had switched over to look at problems at the provincial air ambulance service, delaying the Sudbury investigation.
“I had an opportunity to correspond with the OPP,” Elsner said June 12. “They will be here (June 13) as well as next week to conduct a number of interviews in relation to this.
“They apologized for the delay in the investigation. All the investigators on this file were transferred over to the Ornge investigation that’s happening right now and that took priority … But they will be moving ahead now.”
Elsner said the OPP has been asked to move as quickly as possible with the transit investigation.
“This case has gone to the Crown attorney once already, and the Crown attorney returned it back to the OPP and asked for additional followups, and that’s what they’re going to do now,” he said in June.
When the contract with 1211250 Ontario Inc. was terminated Sept. 4, 2009, the company still owed the city $866,537. Further, between January 2004 and September 2009, the majority of kiosk management fees (70 per cent) were paid personally to the director of the company, Tony Sharma, who was paid $533,506.
Bigger is expected to make more headlines next month when he’s scheduled to release his review of the city’s ward funds, in which city councillors are allowed to dole out $50,000 a year to people in their wards with few limitations or oversight.
Technically known as Healthy Communities Initiatives funds, Bigger has been asked to review a new policy governing the funds, which, among other things, calls for all expenditures to be posted online each quarter.
Also under the new policy, allowable expenses for ward funds are broken down into four categories: donations to community groups; community event expenses; gifts and promotion for community events and groups; and, capital expenditures related to municipal facilities, such as neighbourhood parks.
Opponents, including the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers' Association, dismissively refer to the money as “slush funds” and insist it’s illegal for councillors to give themselves the power to give direct grants to their constituents.
At the Aug. 14 meeting, Bigger is also expected to release his audit of the city’s roads repair system.
Posted by Arron Pickard