County auditor cuts ties with municipality

Dave Mathieson webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on September 12, 2012
After 20-years of conducting audits and financial statements for the Municipality of Cumberland County, George Jorgensen, of Jorgensen & Bickerton Inc., rises from his chair and walks out of the council chambers for the last time.
Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News

UPPER NAPPAN – A game of tit for tat played out in public yesterday as Jorgensen & Bickerton Inc. terminated their ties to the Municipality of Cumberland County.

After spending more than 25 minutes in council chambers reading the municipalities financial statement for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, George Jorgensen pulled out a letter, set it on the desk in front of him and said they are resigning as auditors to the municipality.

After a short debate, warden Keith Hunter read the letter to council and the public.

“Warden and Councillors, as of Sept. 12, 2012, Jorgensen & Bickerton Inc. is terminating their professional relationship with you and will no longer render services to the Municipality of Cumberland.

“In accordance with municipal affairs regulations, we shall also terminate our professional relationship with Cumberland Senior Care Corporation and Sunset Adult Residential Centre.”

“It would have appreciated if you would have given us notice that you were resigning as auditor,” said County CAO Rennie Bugley.

Outside the council chambers Jorgensen asked why they would give the county any notice of their intentions when his accounting firm wasn’t given notice when the county decided to issue a press release that offended Jorgensen & Bickerton.

The county issued the press release in late August stating that when a forensic audit is conducted upon the books at the Cumberland Regional Development Authority, that they would place more reliance on an audit by an outside source than on a ‘project’ audit being carried out by Jorgensen & Bickerton.

Jorgensen had a photocopy of the story that appeared in the Aug. 30 edition of the Amherst Daily News and it had paragraphs highlighted with green highlighter.

One of the highlighted paragraphs said, “The auditor doing the project audit is the same auditor CRDA has been using all along (Jorgensen & Bickerton),” said Hunter. “We feel there should be a fresh set of eyes on it, someone who has a completely different perspective on what’s going on there.”

A report was issued by the ombudsman of Nova Scotia, Dwight Bishop, in Early August, questioned CRDA’s financial practices.

The Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism said yesterday that the provinces audit centre is sending out requests to find the best independent group to do the independent forensic examination of CRDA.

After the council meeting it was clear Hunter would approve of the provinces decision.

“It was a media release where we stated that we were not happy with the audit being done by the auditors of CREDA and the municipality,” said Hunter. “We thought it should have been an outside agency.”

After reading the letter of resignation in the council chambers, Hunter told Jorgensen, “It came as a shock. Maybe something might have been worked out.”

Jorgensen replied by saying, “It came as a shock to us when we read it in the paper.”

dmathieson@amherstdaily.com