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Province implements Ombudsman’s recommendations to improve notice to taxpayers about proposed borrowing by-laws

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Oct 24, 2008

Manitoba Ombudsman Irene Hamilton today announced that all recommendations made in her Report, issued August 27, 2007, regarding the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain Local Improvement Plan have been implemented.

"I want to commend the Council of Killarney-Turtle Mountain for their prompt attention to my recommendation that a public meeting be held, and the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Municipal Board for implementing administrative changes that will improve transparency and accountability province-wide in the process of Local Improvement Plans," said Hamilton.

The final report is available on line at: (under "Ombudsman Division", "Reports and Publications") or in hardcopy form from Manitoba Ombudsman at 982-9130 (Winnipeg) or 1-800-665-0531 (toll free in Manitoba).

Hamilton concluded in her report that, "The process by which the residents of Killarney-Turtle Mountain have incurred the significant tax burden associated with this project (a new recreational centre), does not meet an acceptable standard of transparency and accountability." She found that inadequate notice provided by the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain and a failure of oversight by Intergovernmental Affairs and The Municipal Board resulted in residents being denied the right to speak on an extraordinary expenditure of public monies, for which they are now responsible.

Local improvements are regulated by The Municipal Act and municipal councils are required to give affected taxpayers notice of public hearings into proposed plans. These notices must include a summary of the information included in the local improvement plan. After an investigation by her office, the Ombudsman found that the notice to the residents of Killarney-Turtle Mountain did not include enough information to properly inform them of the financial impact of the proposed Local Improvement Plan.

Hamilton issued a preliminary report recommending that the municipality hold a special meeting to hear residents’ concerns before proceeding. The municipality accepted that recommendation.

Local Improvement Plans are vetted by the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs before being sent to The Municipal Board for formal approval. To correct deficiencies identified by the investigation, the Ombudsman recommended that the Department implement and publish a standard requirement for public notices in its Municipal Procedures Manual for all municipalities. Further, she recommended that a standard method for bringing any deficiencies of notice to the attention of The Municipal Board be adopted.

These recommendations were implemented on October 10th with the publication of an amendment to the Municipal Act Procedures Manual distributed to all municipalities by the department.