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What’s Erin hiding?

Dear Editor:

A big thank you and congratulations to Chris Daponte for investigating and reporting on settlements paid to terminated employees of Wellington County and its municipalities.

As his article reported, I had attempted to get the Town of Erin to give me the severance totals for the past five years. I gave up as their buffaloing tactics worked.

I am delighted that the Advertiser had more tenacity in pursuing the issue and on a larger scale.

It is interesting and dismaying that some municipalities will not give up the severance totals while others did without much trouble. The Ontario government needs to clarify the Freedom of Information Act so that all counties and municipalities have clear guidelines on requests for this information.

The reason I wanted the severance totals was so that I would be able to monitor the town budget for employee wages and benefit totals. If a certain year had a large number of terminated employees only that year would show a higher payout.

The Town of Erin has had two CAO terminations, a town planner, a roads superintendent, a recreation director, an executive assistant, an accounting analyst, not to mention the sudden retirements of both of our long-term director of finance and most recently the fire chief.

These assumed severance pay-outs with the departure of so many long-term employees would be extremely significant to a low-population municipality like Erin. Surely taxpayers have a right to know what such personnel upheavals are costing them.

Using population numbers and the figures given in Daponte’s articles, Wellington County and Mapleton households took a bit of a hit paying for severances. I suspect Erin’s total is much higher considering the high level positions of the people Erin terminated in the last five years.

The Town of Erin refused to include a letter in council’s agenda last July in which I ask council to assure the public that severance payments are a one-time expense and not embedded in salaries and benefits within future budgets. The town refused, saying my request was not appropriate for the council agenda. They just ignored my request for clarification.

I am left wondering what the town is hiding. Isn’t the council the go to place for taxpayers to direct such concerns?

Jane Vandervliet, ERIN


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