City of Lloydminster council and staff gathered at Lloydminster City Hall on Oct. 8 for a special council meeting to address the controversial contract made between the city and former mayor Jeff Mulligan’s consulting group AHHA Moments Inc.
This time around city officials, including Mayor Rob Saunders, city manager Glenn Carroll and various council members, took questions on the issue. The contract, which was signed in 2013 at the same time Mulligan was stepping down as mayor, had the city of Lloydminster paying AHHA Moments Inc. for work on an unspecified local project.
This was perceived by many as a conflict of interest and caused a degree of outcry from the public.
“We wanted to address our residents’ concerns and what we wanted to do was recognize that there’s been mistakes made,” said Saunders. “We are now taking steps to absolve that risk of anything like this happening going forward and so we’re reviewing our policies, our code of conduct and our procedure policies on procurement.”
The mayor admitted that the signing of the contract was a mistake and repeated that council is moving forward by revamping their policies and ensuring future procurements are handled properly. He says he spoke with the minister of municipal affairs in Alberta, who said he’d be able to help make sure Lloydminster will have the highest standards in place from now on.
Saunders was deputy mayor when the contract was signed but says he had no knowledge of it at that time. City manager Glenn Carroll, who signed the contract with AHHA Moments Inc., says the deal was right for the city, but now sees it as a mistake.
See “Council,” Page 11
“At the time it was in the best interest of the city that we looked at. We had someone with the skills to do what we needed to get done. Now and under those ethical guidelines and our purchasing policy, it allowed me to do that. We realize it was a mistake.”
Whether the city approached AHHA Moments, or vice versa, Carroll says it’s been so long that he can’t remember.
“I’m not going to comment on exactly how it came to be. It was two years ago, trying to remember exactly how it came about, at that point, would just be crazy for me to even speculate.”
Part of the contract involved a $120,000 cancelation fee if services were terminated without a notice of sixmonths. The city canceled the contract after just three months, resulting in the six figure payout. Mulligan put out a press release on Oct. 8, however, saying he would pay the amount back to the city.
“AHHA Moments Inc., having committed itself to have the necessary resources available as needed, at a reduced rate to the City while the agreement was in place, was entitled to six months notice if the City wished to terminate the agreement,” said Mulligan in the statement. “If the City failed to provide such notice, it would be liable to pay the same fee in lieu of notice, amounting to $120,000.
“As I respect those concerns, even though the City terminated the agreement mid-project, I will waive the termination payment, and return the $120,000.”
Both Saunders and Carroll say they couldn’t comment on Mulligan’s press release but Saunders did say that, ” As far as tax payers money goes I’m sure people are happy with that.”