By Joel van der Veen
CRAIK — Craik’s mayor says he believes the town will be able to retrieve the total amount it has lost to fraud, calculated at close to $40,000.
“I’m confident that we will recover, through various means, all of the funds that were lost,” David Ashdown told the Leader.
Those means include bonds held by the town, as well as the restitution to be paid by former town administrator Jeff Murray, who pled guilty to fraud in January.
According to figures provided by the town earlier this month, the loss to fraud totals $39,416.34.
Administrator Sarah Wells said the town currently has an open insurance claim through SGI, and is waiting to hear what the outcome will be.
“It’s not a guarantee,” said Wells, adding, “We’re definitely going to work with them and see what we can get.”
The mayor said he, the town councillors and employees are working to carefully follow established policies to ensure that Craik won’t be vulnerable to fraud again.
“Personally I’m very confident that a similar situation could not arise,” said Ashdown, adding that while he trusts the staff, “that doesn’t remove my fiduciary duty to check carefully.”
Wells, who began working for the town in November 2014, said her responsibilities to council have been consistent throughout that time.
“I make sure council has all the information to work with,” she said. “My office door is always open for them to come in and inspect anything that they wish.”
She confirmed that she provides detailed financial statements to council, including itemized credit card statements.
Ashdown said these documents are received by council members prior to each regular monthly meeting.
The council reviews and adopts financial statements, payroll and accounts payable at each meeting. Having these documents makes it possible for council members to do cross-references.
“I do a regular review ensuring that the invoice matches the check and the authorization,” Ashdown explained. “We have tightened up the administration considerably.”
The mayor clarified that these are not new policies for council, but that they must be followed in order to be effective at preventing or detecting any financial irregularities.
Ashdown said he draws from his own experience in dealing with public funds, as well as observing best practices from other municipalities.
“We’re very careful to strictly adhere to the policies we already have in place,” he said. “Unless it’s adhered to, it’s not worth anything.”
For the full story, please see the May 15 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.