There are a few big changes at the Township of East Hawkesbury municipal headquarters.
Luc Lalonde, a former East Hawkesbury councillor, an accountant by profession, has been hired as the new CAO/Clerk-Treasurer. Overseen by interim CAO/Clerk-Treasurer Robert Lefebvre during the past three months, a new, integrated accounting system has been introduced and the township’s accounting systems are hosted off-site and backed up remotely.
Lefebvre’s stint at the township ended on Friday, September 15 and he says it has been non-stop for the past three months, catching up on the township’s accounts and at the same time, getting data up to date inside a new accounting system.
Mary McCuaig, former CAO of The Nation Municipality, will be stepping in after Lefebvre leaves, to mentor and support Luc Lalonde in the functioning of a municipality.
“He (Lalonde) has the accounting skills, but it is in the operation of a municipality that he will need some support so that he can handle everything,” said Lefebvre. The CAO/Clerk-Treasurer job is a big one, where the person in charge has to know about a lot of things, from A to Z (from Assessment to Zoning), said Lefebvre, who has worked in local government for about four decades.
“I had other things to get back to,” said Lefebvre, who is getting set to bring himself up to speed on new legislation about recycling and waste diversion. Lefebvre, who recently retired as Champlain Township’s CAO, is the Recycling Coordinator for the Joint Recycling Committee, which serves the Town of Hawkesbury, Champlain Township and the Township of East Hawkesbury.
The new accounting “Vadim”, is also used by several area municipalities, Lefebvre said and the company offers good support. The up-front cost for the software and training was $40,000. The monthly cost for the software, upgrades, hosting and support is about $550 per month and it is well worth it, says Lefebvre, who spent part of the last three months transitioning the municipality from a software system that was decades old which was being used in combination with a lot of manual book-keeping methods.
Elected officials in the Township of East Hawkesbury were surprised earlier this year when it was revealed that $53,000 was missing from the township’s funds. Record-keeping in the township’s outdated accounting system was not up to date. Not many details were released about the finding, but the township’s long-time CAO/Clerk-Treasurer Linda Rozon was released from her position. At the time, according to the mayor, township council opted not to press charges, given that Rozon agreed to pay back the funds.
Deloitte, which discovered the shortfall earlier this year, has been the township’s official auditor for decades; the company has not commented on the matter to date.