For perhaps the first time since Nick Kohlman started making allegations of fraud and corruption in the Town of Ponoka, councillors asked him why he has not taken his claims to court. His answer may come as a surprise to some: “Money.”
Kohlman, a Ponoka County resident, met with town council April 8 once again to discuss local improvement issues on 38 Street that occurred some years ago. He and Bill Kuncio, who represents Tillie Lloyd of 4015 39 Street, both presented a series of ongoing questions regarding unfinished work that was paid for by residents.
Rather than taking civil action, Kohlman has chosen instead to seek justice through the Freedom of Information and the Protections of Privacy (FOIP), requests to administration, advocating for some 38 Street residents and through other appeal boards.
“I have gone to a lawyer quite some time ago. I have spoken to about seven different lawyers. The one in Lacombe, he said, ‘If you’ve got $50,000 we could start.’”
Kohlman said the cost could go up to $100,000 and did not think it was fair for him to spend his savings to get the town to “act in a decent matter.”
Deputy Mayor Carla Prediger asked if 38 Street residents would be willing to take these issues to court. Kuncio replied he does not think residents can afford to take civil action.
“Do you think the residents of 38 Street have the deep pockets to take this to a civil suit? I don’t think so,” he stated
Limited options for Kohlman
FOIP adjudicators, municipal government review boards and police have been contacted by Kohlman.
Police have stated the issue is a civil matter and FOIP adjudicators and municipal government review boards said the same thing: “They have no jurisdiction to deal with our complaint,” stated Kohlman.
“We submit to you, our complaint has never been heard by an assessment review board or a municipal government review board,” he added.
He appeared frustrated that FOIP panels, despite agreeing there were errors in the local improvement, were not taking further action on his requests.
Prediger said people have spoken to council and asked how long they should hear about 38 Street. She asked Kohlman what would make him stop. “If you could make it right with a magic wand in one second or less, what would this need to look like for you?”
“We want the truth,” stated Kohlman.
“We want the facts established and rectified as far as is possible,” he added.
Prediger said council would direct administration to provide a breakdown of taxation and frontage issues over the local improvement to homeowners regarding those issues.
Mayor Rick Bonnett and Coun. Loanna Gulka recused themselves from the meeting as they live on 38 Street. Kohlman told council he was encouraged by the meeting.
The previous council rejected an offer last year to refund 38 Street residents for services paid for that were incomplete stating there was no total resolution and no guarantee this issue would be resolved.