Westlock County reeve Bud Massey will not be forced to reimburse the municipality for a $19,530 payout to former CAO Peter Kelly.
At council’s June 28 meeting, Coun. Dennis Primeau motioned that Massey personally repay $19,530 that was paid to Kelly for his consultation work following his tenure as CAO. The motion was lost in a 3-3.
In a recorded vote, councillors Primeau, Ray Marquette and Don Savage voted for Massey to pay back the funds, while councillors Ron Zadunayski, Albert St. Louis and Mel Kroetsch were against. Massey initially voted against, but later retracted his vote due to a conflict of interest.
On Feb. 22, councillors approved a deal to pay Kelly one month’s salary in exchange for one month of in-person consultation work, followed by two months of telephone availability in order to dovetail his tenure with incoming CAO Duane Coleman.
However, Primeau said the deal was made under the false pretense that Coleman had requested the service.
“Council was deliberately misled,” Primeau said. “They were led to believe that Duane had asked [for help] and that was not true at all.
“That money needs to come back in its entirety.”
Shortly after Coleman’s hire in February, councillors were supposed to have a conference call with him and Kelly. The call never happened, but the deal was inked on Kelly’s assurance that Coleman wanted his help.
“[Kelly] told us, which I guess was untrue, that Duane asked him to have is support for a while when he got here,” said Zadunayski.
“I remember that clearly and it was Peter that had said that.”
Primeau, however, claimed Massey had knowledge all along.
“Bud was fully aware of this,” Primeau said.
“That’s not very accurate, Dennis,” Massey retorted. “I think it’s important this council started dealing with issues instead of finger-pointing and reputation bashing.”
Savage said that Massey pulled the cheque to give to Kelly before council approved it on the accounts-for-payments list.
“There was no vote on that cheque. I made the motion that day and that cheque was pulled and I asked it to be reintroduced at the next meeting, or to the second meeting after that. It never got there,” Savage said. “Bud took it out and gave it to Peter without it ever going through council.”
“That was the memory of one councillor,” he said following the meeting. “There was no discussion about it coming back to council.”
Massey says he did pull the cheque and was following a council directive.
“It was the will of council that [Kelly] would not receive the cheque until after he performed the services,” Massey said.
“It was held in the vault and it was released after he performed the services, the one month service. The cheque was made out at the beginning of the month, but we as council said, ‘No, don’t pay in advance, pay at the end of the service.’”
Prior to the vote, Primeau asked for Coleman to read his position into the record.
“I went on record, it was printed in the media as well, that at no time did I ask for Mr. Kelly to cover a month of service here in order to allow me to transition,” Coleman said.
“It was relayed to me that it was council’s desire to have him here and I wasn’t in a position to object to that … at no time did I ever request Mr. Kelly’s assistance.”
Marquette also noted that the payout included $2,000 in vacation pay and $3,800 in paid benefits. “There is never any holiday pay paid to anyone that’s contracted, ever,” he said.