The Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association has successfully paid back a debt of $75,000 to the city after the volunteer executive discovered about $90,000 went missing a year and a half ago.
The group is about to start its fall season on Sept. 28 completely debt free.
New treasurer Darren Harvieux says that has a lot to do with large fundraising efforts.
"We eliminated certain positions within minor hockey association in order to cut a little bit of cost, some extra fund raising initiatives," Harvieux said.
"We also closely watched our money. We switched from a one-person approach to a team approach. And we better overall managed the finances for minor hockey,"
A year and a half ago, the previous executive noticed what it called "financial irregularities" within the minor hockey books. Ice time bills were not being paid and other money had gone missing.
After police investigation, former treasurer Melissa Williams was charged with six offences, including fraud, forging documents and theft. A preliminary inquiry is scheduled in provincial court in Corner Brook for Oct.22 and Oct. 23. The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence to send the matter to trial.
Meanwhile, the minor hockey association was left to pick up the pieces. Harvieux accepted the responsibility of the role about a year ago, with the hopes he could help sort the financial woes.
"I eventually decided to put my name forward because of all the turmoil and all the things that were happening, I thought it would be exciting to be able to jump in and sort of take on that role and be contributor to help them pay all that debt off," he said.
Mayor praises 'amazing' job in tackling debt
The City of Corner Brook announced late last year it would give the association a two-year, interest-free loan on the ice time.
The association announced in a social media post earlier this month that the $75,000 was paid off a full year earlier than anticipated.
"I'm not surprised," said Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons.
"I think the new executive has done an amazing job getting their house in order and figured out the best way to recover money and when they came to us with the ability to pay it off early, it was great for everyone."
The Minor Hockey Association is the biggest tenant of the Corner Brook Civic Centre. Given the past issues with overdue ice time bills, Parsons says the city has slightly changed its policies to ensure nothing like this happens again.
"Typically ice time is billed on a monthly basis with a payment due 30 days later. This was all discovered as an overdue bill six days after the end of the month," said Parsons.
"It wasn't because we weren't following up on our money owed. That said, we have changed our policy to make it a two-week net period for collecting any owed money."
Trust is back
Harvieux said the goal now is to pay off bills as soon as possible.
"Our objective was to always pay things off the day we get the bill as opposed to wait it out," said Harvieux.
Registration for this year's hockey season started early, and online. Harvieux says membership numbers are the same as past years, despite the controversy.
Harvieux said the association is keen to reassure parents.
"I can speak for both, as a parent and as a treasurer. I have two kids in minor hockey as well. It's important for me to keep the parents in the loop and relay all the information and let them know this is where your money is going," he said.
"I can understand if parents do still feel nervous. Hopefully the way we have done things over the past year will ease those concerns."