AMHERST – The executive director of the Cumberland Regional Development Authority said she was surprised to learn of a letter from the Municipality of Cumberland seeking her suspension and that of the board.
“The CRDA was not aware of the letter forwarded from the municipality to the minister of economic and rural development and tourism,” Rhonda Kelly said in a statement on Friday. “This is somewhat disconcerting given that each of the municipal units in Cumberland County has appointed representatives to the CRDA board of directors. It is our understanding that the representatives from the Municipality of the County of Cumberland were also not contacted respecting this correspondence.”
Kelly’s comments came a day after the county released a letter it sent the minister in August asking him to suspend Kelly and the board and to secure the CRDA office and any documents located offsite.
The CRDA board held its annual meeting last Wednesday and stressed it’s pleased with its accomplishments over the past year and the independent audit that was conducted by Jorgensen and Bickerton Inc.
“That audit included all projects dating back to 2007-08 as well as the 2011-12 core activities and it clearly indicated no evidence of missing funds,” Kelly said in the statement. “The audit report is issued to all core funding partners of the CRDA, including the Municipality of the County of Cumberland and is intended to address any outstanding questions.”
New CRDA board chair Irene Albertson said the authority has long been a leader in economic development in the province.
“We believe, along with our federal, provincial and municipal partners that the board and citizen engagement is paramount to successful regional growth and development and has been demonstrated during the past 17 years of CRDA’s operation,” Albertson said. “This has been possible through the leadership of the CEO along with CRDA staff. The board supports this leadership.”
CRDA vice-chair and Springhill Mayor Allen Dill reaffirmed the need for community volunteer involvement and full municipal collaboration.
“Municipal appointments to the CRDA board enable a strong municipal voice and we believe in their role in representing municipal perspective,” Dill said. He said the board is comprised of representatives from each of the county’s five municipalities – one elected and two community members at large.
“The CRDA is committed to good governance and public transparency as evidenced in the ongoing implementation of the human resources strategic plan which includes the recent hiring of Leigh Ann Hyndman as director of corporate services,” Albertson said.
Kelly said the organization intends to continue to follow the dictates of its legislation and will work collaboratively with the province through the examination process. She said CRDA has consistently exceeded expectations through the performance-based funding criteria of regional development authorities. CRDA, she said, is proud of its accomplishments and track record.