Petition advocates defend cost of proposed forensic audit
Herald file photo. Former City Councilor Evert Botha listens to a speaker during a council meeting in October 2019.
A local community group continues to request a full forensic examination of the city of Prince Albert, pushing down concerns the investigation will come at a higher cost to taxpayers.
According to Evert Botha, founder of the Prince Albert Business and Residents’ Advocacy Group (PABRAG) and former councilman, the cost of a forensic examination could be $150,000 or more, depending on the depth.
“The truth is we are already paying for it as it would be paid for out of the city’s budgeted surplus,” Botha said in an email to the Herald. “It certainly won’t bankrupt the city, it can only save it!”
Following a State of the Community forum in October, PABRAG launched two petitions for a forensic financial audit of both the city and the Prince Albert Police Service; The first is a petition to the Province of Saskatchewan and the second is a petition to the City of Prince Albert.
Associate Professor Douglas Kalesnikoff of the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business explained that a forensic financial audit is an in-depth investigation of specific allegations of wrongdoing.
“There would have to be some level of reduction in the issues that could be a concern… It’s much more integrated with what’s happening around a specific set of transactions or something,” Kalesnikoff said. “An analogy would be a foot wide and a mile deep.”
Although he could not provide an exact figure, Kalesnikoff estimated that such an investigation would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
fraud, theft or other financial misappropriation; improper or unauthorized transactions; failure to comply with state or federal laws; and failure to comply with municipal ordinances are areas of concern for the proposed forensic financial audit, Botha said.
PABRAG had hoped to complete the petitions by Jan. 15, but Botha said they’re a little behind on their goal. He explained that foot traffic to PABRAG locations has been slower than expected, which contributes at a time when everything is online.
“We have a motivated team of petitioners who will be courting businesses, community-based organizations and residents over the next two weeks,” Botha said. “Our mobile petition team will go out to collect outstanding petition sheets and meet with residents at their work, home or church to sign the petitions.”
The group intends to present the petitions to the city clerk’s office on Monday, January 23.
The Herald tried several times to reach out to the city’s director of financial services for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.