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'Misappropriation' may have been wrong word

Kristen Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 7, 2012

Allegations by former mayor Kelly Schofield that the Town of Hay River had misappropriated funds are not valid, according to an investigation by the GNWT, and Schofield is backing away from the claim.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs handed over its executive report to Hay River's Town Council last week.

"It isn't appropriate for the department to step in and tell you how to spend your money if there is no misappropriation of funds," said Eleanor Young, the department's assistant deputy minister, while addressing council on April 23. "There was no indication of anything that led us to believe that there was a misappropriation of funds."

However, Young stated in the executive summary handed out to council members, there were a variety of other issues that need to be worked out. She said there are 18 recommendations in the report, and MACA would be available to provide some guidance in these areas.

Some of these include outdated and unclear bylaws, and communication issues.

Following Young's brief conversation, council held an in-camera meeting to discuss the report in detail. The reason for the private meeting was due to confidential information in individual contracts for employees that were investigated following the former mayor's resignation and allegations, on Feb. 27.

Schofield said he anticipated the outcome of MACA's investigation as he did not believe there was any criminal activity in the first place.

"To me it's no surprise," he said. "When I resigned it wasn't due to any illegal activities. The only reason I brought MACA into it, as an afterthought, was after a meeting with our two MLAs just to be 100 per cent sure it wasn't anything more than what I saw."

Schofield also said his choice of wording in his resignation letter sparked more serious allegations than he had intended.

"I realize now that misappropriation may have been the wrong word to use," he said. "Financially irresponsible would probably have been more appropriate."

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