P.E.I. government steps in to advise Murray Harbour village council

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P.E.I. government steps in to advise Murray Harbour village council

Staff with provincial municipal affairs are working with the Murray Harbour Village Council now that its chief administrative officer is no longer working in the office.

The Department of Municipal Affairs has been "providing strategic advice to resolve the ongoing matters of concern and on best practices going forward," said a provincial spokesperson in an email.

Department staff met with council last week to make sure it's meeting "its responsibilities and obligations," according to the email.

Council, CAO at impasse

Concerns over finances in Murray Harbour have created an impasse between the village council and its CAO.

The finances have been the subject of recent debates on social media and at public meetings.

Murray Harbour's CAO Sylvain De Lafontaine has said there's never been money missing or unaccounted for in the village, but the village is dealing with a debt of $40,000.

Spending on town projects, he said, including the extension to Murray Harbour Community Centre, contributed to the debt.

RCMP called to public meeting

Both De Lafontaine and council chair Garry Herring told CBC the situation came to a head on March 1 at a public meeting when RCMP were called.

Police say they attended that meeting because they got a call but they say they are not involved in any active investigation there.

For his part, De Lafontaine told CBC he would like to continue to be at work, but he hasn't had access to the village office since he voluntarily gave his keys to the RCMP at the March 1 public meeting. 

The council is currently operating with a chair and three councillors; three other councillors have resigned. Herring said there will be no elections until all of the financial matters are cleared up. 

Budget due end of March

Herring said a preliminary budget is due on March 29 which is a requirement from municipal affairs. 

The chair said the village's accounting firm is no longer working with Murray Harbour, and the village is seeking new auditors to review the books.

De Lafontaine said he has not resigned and he has not been let go by council, but said he hasn't been paid since Feb. 24.

Herring said Tuesday afternoon the village has hired an interim CAO, "effective immediately." He would not comment on De Lafontaine's employment status.

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