Just three months after Ponoka town councillors refunded 38 Street residents $74,000 for errors in a local improvement project some years ago, administration has received a request to discuss it in a public meeting.
At the May 29 regular meeting when council approved the refund, deputy mayor Carla Prediger had also indicated to Nick Kohlman and Bill Kuncio, acting as agents for four 38 Street residents, that town would not directly interact with them and that any further request would have to go through the town’s lawyers, but Kohlman says the wording of the letter was ambiguous.
He suggests that since the property owners authorized him and Kuncio as agents, there should be some discussion with them. “If you read their (town administration’s) letter carefully, they said any more reaction from us will be referred to their lawyer.”
“Should there be any further discussion regarding the local improvement as agents, that discussion would have to occur with our lawyers, as agent to agent,” Prediger stated in the May 29 meeting.
Despite that request, Kohlman and Kuncio recently asked town administration Aug. 27 for a chance to bring up some issues they see with the refund and the entire project but the request was denied.
There are 14 specific requests they have regarding work on 38 Street, some of which Kohlman says was never completed.
A further Freedom of Information and Protection (FOIP) – the third from Kuncio and Kohlman – on the project was sent to town with administration acceding to three specific requests. However the then acting CAO Betty Quinlan requested in a letter to Jill Clayton, Information and Privacy Commissioner, dated Sept. 24, to allow the town to disregard the balance of the requests stating, “in addition to their accusatory and inflammatory tone, the requests are both repetitious and systematic.”
The letter continued to say it would unreasonably interfere with the town’s operations.
“In addition, the requests amount to an abuse of the right to make requests under the Act and are frivolous and vexatious,” stated the letter.
Refund was not enough
Kohlman suggests the refund to 38 Street residents should have been closer to $250,000, roughly half the cost of the entire project, for what he claims to be work that was never completed.
Communication between other residents on 38 Street and the two agents does not appear to be happening, either. When asked what other residents thought, both Kohlman and Kuncio said they were curious to know.
“We’re curious about that as well why other residents are not interested about what is going on. It’s their money,” stated Kuncio.
“This issue is more than money. This issue is about serious mismanagement by the town,” added Kohlman.
He feels they are being painted in a negative light for uncovering issues with the local improvement project.
“We’re the bad guys…we didn’t do the mistakes. We uncovered them,” said Kuncio.
“We believe the dishonesty of the town is a much greater issue than the money that’s involved,” said Kohlman.
One problem they face is that the individuals involved in viewing and accepting the proposal from Nikiforuk Construction – the company chosen to complete the project – are no longer employed by the town, said Kuncio.
Kohlman suggests the current council is responsible to rectify the issue even if it did not approve the project. “And if they try to conceal, they implicate themselves.”
Town representatives declined to comment on the request