The Downton Penticton Association dropped a bombshell Monday when it announced it had turned investigation of “financial irregularities” over to RCMP.
According to a release signed by executive director Lynn Allin and the DPA board, the irregularities were discovered during a regular review of their financials in September 2016.
“The DPA executive board hired a forensic auditor from Kelowna who confirmed irregularities ending July 31, 2016,” reads the release. “Internal controls have been tightened and financial reviews have shown no irregularities since July 31, 2016.
“In November, we turned the file over to the RCMP and on the advice of RCMP we cannot provide further details at this time.”
Allin took over as executive director in August 2016 when Kerri Milton left to become executive director for the Downtown Victoria Business Association.
Milton said she has “absolutely no idea” what is going on, and was shocked when she heard of the announcement.
“I don’t know what to think right now,” said Milton, explaining that the DPA financials were audited yearly by White Kennedy LLP. Another member of the accounting firm also sat on the DPA board.
Milton said she took steps to establish financial controls when she took over as executive director.
“Bookkeeping used to be internal. I hired an outside bookkeeper, I hired an outside payroll firm. I didn’t handle anything internally, it was all outsourced. I didn’t have access to the bank account,” said Milton, adding that previously, the DPA executive director had signing authority.
“To keep it arms length, I asked not to be. So there is two board members that had to sign on every cheque that went through that office. We had no cash on hand in the office,” said Milton.
The DPA release assures members that none of the current services, programs or finances are affected by the investigation.
“The DPA continues to work with the RCMP and we will update you when we are able. Your support and understanding is appreciated,” reads the release.
The area covered by the DPA stretches along Main Street from Eckhardt Avenue to Lakeshore Drive, and about two blocks on either side, with extensions to include Ellis and Front Street.
The DPA is supported through a Business Improvement Area bylaw, which was renewed on Feb. 28 of this year. Under the bylaw, there is a property levy of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value up to a maximum of $2,888. It’s estimated to raise $206,750 in 2017.