MAMOT slaps Hudson’s wrists over administrative decisions
YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Aspects of a complaint made against the Town of Hudson to the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) raising concerns over the awarding of contracts for the presentation and translation of the strategic plan and hiring a consultant resulted in a three-page letter to the town’s administration.
“We had no choice,” said Mayor Ed Prévost confirming the letter, dated October 8, was indeed received by newly hired Director General Jean-Pierre Roy. “We were being blockaded by our former Director General (Catherine Haulard) and we were told there was no money in the 2015 budget for anything concerning the strategic plan.”
In a copy of the letter obtained by Your Local Journal, Complaints Commissioner Richard Villeneuve writes, “… the City, by adopting the resolution R3539 January 13, 2014, granted by agreement a professional services contract to a consultant on the development of the Human Resources management component, its business plan and the negotiation of the collective agreement with municipal employees. However, reading the service offer demonstrates that the municipal government had enough information to determine that contract represented an expenditure of more than $25,000.” This was in reference to the cut-off amount at which a municipal contract must be put to public tender, a process that was not observed when the town hired Judy Sheehan as a Labor Relations Consultant to help council renegotiate the labor relations agreement with the unionized employees of the town.
“We actually paid out $48,000 and we’re being sued for the outstanding amount of $27,000,” said Prévost. The contract was reportedly written without the oversight of the mayor and councillors. “We only saw a resolution saying the number of hours that were being estimated at the time which, if you do the math, came out to about $38,000.”
Besides negotiating the collective agreement, Sheehan was also to do a management assessment. As reported in the January 26, 2014 issue of Your Local Journal, then Director General Catherine Haulard said, “Judy is helping the department heads prepare their business plan, including the mission, objectives and budget of their department.” Prévost said the need to go to tender was brought up at that time but was reportedly dismissed by Haulard.
About a year later, following what Prévost describes as a falling out between Haulard and Sheehan, the former cited the need for tender on the contract. Haulard was suspended for two weeks from her position February 23, a move opposed by Councillors Ron Goldenberg and Robert Spencer. She has since left her position at the town and has launched a lawsuit against Hudson for wrongful dismissal, a case that’s currently ongoing before Quebec’s Commission des relations du travail with the next hearing scheduled for October 26.
In reference to the translations done for the Strategic Plan, the letter further states that contracts are to be awarded by resolution, regulation, or by municipal official with the power to award contracts and authorize certain expenditures.
“Because of the way we did it, we got our wrists slapped,” said Prévost. Though he said the bill was significantly less than using a professional translation service, the decision was not about saving money but about getting the job done.
The town’s strategic plan was initially to have been presented February 21 but was delayed until September 19, incurring further expense to the town in informing the population of the schedule change.
“The French (of the plan) wasn’t properly done and there were numbers that didn’t jive.” Prévost also said there were problems with the plan’s graphics.
The Town of Hudson’s unionized employees are still without a collective agreement and Director General Roy said he’s currently working on finalizing it.
“We’re making sure it’s done properly,” said Roy, emphasizing he wants to ensure any suspicion left over the previous year’s events are alleviated. “I had a good meeting with the union. Both sides had things to say and things to correct, for sure. We’re capable of making a better collective agreement than what exists now.”
Despite the reception of the letter, Prévost maintains the city is moving forward and has received positive feedback from MAMOT for emerging from the financial difficulties under which it had been recently mired.