County in conflict with Joggins Fossil Institute

Dave Mathieson
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Don't see eye-to-eye on lease and funding agreements

County CAO Rennie Bugley (left) and County warden Keith Hunter are at a loss regarding the correspondence, or lack thereof, from the board of the Joggins Fossil Institute.

UPPER NAPPAN – Municipality of Cumberland County has been left scratching its head regarding the behaviour of the Joggins Fossil Institute Association Board.

“We’re at a loss and don’t understand why they don’t sign the lease agreement,” said Rennie Bugley, Cumberland County CAO.

Bugley discussed the lease agreement and the funding agreement between the county and the JFI during last weeks meeting of council.

“They’ve indicate they’re not willing to sign that lease agreement, and they’ve gone to the extent to where they’ve suggested the county should be willing to consider divesting itself of the ownership of that facility,” said Bugley. “The lease agreement is a standard, legal lease agreement which intends to protect the rights and benefits of both the parties. We’re at a loss to understand why they’ve taken that position and not provided any details with respect to the funding agreement.”

County funding to the JFI is dependent of the signing of the lease agreement.

“They provided an invoice to us in the amount of (approximately) $77,000, which we really don’t understand,” said Bugley. “We’ve indicated to them that, should they sign the lease agreement, should they be willing to enter a multi-year funding agreement based on financial need, we would certainly be willing to pay the amount of $55,000 for last year and the current year.”

The multi-year funding agreement is intended to ensure the county provides funding to the Joggins Fossil Institute on a financial-need basis but also to establish accountability regarding ongoing funding.

“For example, we require financial statements, budgets and sustainability plans,” said Bugley.

There is a joint committee between JFI board members, and two county councillors, deputy warden Don Smith and District 9 councillor Mike McLellan, sit on the board.

“Council can ask for a meeting of the joint committee or council can ask for a full meeting comprised of the entire council with the JFI board,” said Bugley.

Warden Keith Hunter agreed, and said a meeting should be set up with the JFI board.

“We’ve been trying to communicate with them, and I’ve been trying to communicate directly with the chair of the board but I’m getting no responses,” said Hunter. “We’ll try to set that up and if that doesn’t happen then maybe we’ll have to get an (third-party) intervener.”

Hunter put a motion to the floor to schedule a meeting with the JFI, and council passed the motion.

“If they can’t come, or if they refuse to come, then maybe we should look at cutting off financial funding,” said Lynne Welton, councillor for District 5. “We’ve been after them and have had a terrible time getting financial accountability from them.”




Organizations: Joggins Fossil Institute Association Board, JFI board

Geographic location: Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • Mel Vance
    June 23, 2014 - 12:20

    It's a shame to read this. I've been away for many years and when I seen the museum for the first time I thought it would be great for the community. I tell everyone I know how great Joggins is and the fossil cliffs/museum always dominate the conversation. Don't know if the previous posts are true or not but I'm hoping someone or a body of people decide to open everything up to the taxpayers, after all they paid for it.

  • joggins guy
    June 22, 2014 - 12:30

    Do I smell a hint of corruption in our beautiful sea salt air

  • more of the same
    June 20, 2014 - 10:14

    Taxpayers funds shouldn't be given out without proper justification . If the JFI is not in compliance with providing full accountability then funding should cease until proper communication is received from the JFI .. No need to bring in an intermediary as there are two council members on their board . They will have to do their job to represent both the County and JFI ...

  • resident
    June 19, 2014 - 20:30

    There's is an audit going on with CREDA, long overdue I might add, I'm sure the JFI is involved in that one. I think it's so bad that they can't even release it, it's too embarrassing for everyone involved. Good point noodle.

  • noodle
    June 19, 2014 - 13:07

    Hmm... wanting the County to divest itself of the facility? Sounds like they've got something they don't want the County and/or taxpayers to find out about. A forensic audit might be in order.

  • resident
    June 19, 2014 - 06:30

    I think the dismissal of local people trained to work at the facility should be investigated, some with several years of experience, maybe the real reason they were dismissed will surface. Let's just say it's hard to rent space to someone who lives in the area.

    • noodle
      June 19, 2014 - 23:18

      Perhaps the local staff members know too much. Getting rid of whistle blowers appears to have become the standard with some funded organizations in Cumberland, after all JFI's main supporter and former funding partner CREDA had been accused of firing two long-time staffers for reporting questionable management practices. We all know what happened after that - maybe the management and board of JFI isn't taking any chances. Certainly would explain why they have also asked the County to go away.

  • Ozzie
    June 19, 2014 - 06:05

    If you take money from taxpayers to run a business, you must answer to those taxpayers. The county should absolutely not divest itself of the ownership of that facility. The financial records should be public domain.

  • Joseph
    June 18, 2014 - 19:59

    The citizens of that community might be surprised if they knew what was going on at the JFI, like how $350,000 in wages gets divided each year. Check out the financial report on their website. follow this link page 13. It's pretty basic. With the number of employees that go through there and amount of time worked per season, it looks like top management personal are making 6 figures, that's pretty good wages for Joggins. But then we'll never know for sure because of the cloud of secrecy surrounding the whole place, not one public meeting since it opened. And that's one very small part of the wrong doing going on there. If the County gave up ownership as suggested by the board of the JFI, who would take ownership?

  • brian
    June 18, 2014 - 15:25

    The meeting with the JFI should be open to the public as well. They have a right to know what is going on.

  • Shawn McEachern
    June 18, 2014 - 15:04

    It seems that the same questionable practices of CREDA have unfortunately transferred over to the management of this world class fossil site.