At a recent Finance Committee meeting on July 15th, 2015, council members were addressed by Gregg Swanzey, Director, Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships Department (EDSP) alleging that there were ‘serious’ grant management issues of seven of Kingston’s grants, and in particular those coming from Kingston’s Parks and Recreation office.
As far as we know to date, the directors of both departments have not yet sat down together to discuss these items – line by line – with their reports.
Based on video of the meeting, it appears that the EDSP office was charged by the Mayor to work on a report (that took approximately 8 weeks) to present to the Common Council’s Finance Committee. Apparently, the Parks and Recreation department received the report two weeks prior to respond in time for the July 15th meeting (although without a formal communication request by Parks and Recreation to be added to the evening’s agenda, the department was not officially allowed to respond during the meeting, although there are moments where they did as you will see in the video).
Generally, elected/appointed officials or citizens who wish to move something through to council start by sending a ‘communication’ to council president to be added to an appropriate committee so to present. An action for the committee to take is generally (if not always) requested which is then either approved out of committee and moved to council to vote or, kept on the agenda for further review and discussion.
In this case, the result (since there wasn’t any formal action being made) was for there to be an audit of all City of Kingston’s grants (suggested by Finance Committee chair Maryann Mills that evening).
The request for a citywide audit of grants, however, did not pass through Council in August. No further request or action has since been made on the subject based on press reports.
Before any further steps are taken by Kingston’s highest office that might further burden the public and cost more taxpayer monies, citizens should request that both Kingston’s Economic Development and Parks and Recreation Departments sit down face to face, having each a report of their own, to identify which are actual issues and which are not – and then, to proceed from there.
The meeting is roughly transcribed and included below so that citizens can follow along, as it can be hard to follow if you haven’t any background on this matter.