The Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) is recommending that the municipality of Franklin undergo an audit. This follows an investigation by the Direction des enquêtes et des pursuits en intégrité municipale (DEPIM) that looked into irregularities in the taxation process and the establishment of tax rates adopted by the municipality.
“As a result of its investigation, the DEPIM has made a number of findings that call into question the budgetary process followed by the municipality, particularly with regard to compliance with the rules governing the setting of tax rates,” writes CMQ president Jean-Philippe Marois in a letter accompanying the report issued by the Commission on October 16.
The report contains the CMQ’s conclusions and recommendations that were made after the DEPIM received information alleging the municipality has “rapidly increased municipal taxes over the past two years and has imposed tax rates that exceed those permitted by the Act respecting municipal taxation.”
In its assessment, the Commission notes that the decision by a municipal council to impose a tax increase falls within the discretion of the council, and the DEPIM does not have the mandate to investigate such decisions. However, regarding tax rates that are higher than allowed under provincial law, the DEPIM concludes that “A cursory examination of the most recent taxation by-laws reveals, at first glance, certain irregularities in the setting of certain tax rates.”
The report recommends the CMQ verify that the municipality’s operations comply with the applicable laws, regulations, policies, and directives, and that the processes in place respect the principles of sound management of public funds. The Commission will publish a report at the end of the fiscal year outlining its findings and any further recommendations.
Franklin director general Simon St-Michel confirms the Commission is initiating a performance audit of the municipality’s budget adoption processes to ensure all legal obligations were in fact respected. According to St-Michel, the CMQ has informed the municipality that “There have been no reprehensible acts in terms of ethics or professional conduct.”
St-Michel says the CMQ’s recommendations following the audit “will enable us to continue improving the administrative practices in place at the municipality of Franklin.” He notes that similar audits have been carried out in the past in Franklin, the most recent having taken place in November 2021.