Dawson City- a cautionary tale

Dawson City ( population approx 2,000) is an example of what happens when a municipal administration spends itself into deep trouble. It took only six years for officials to mismanage the city into a financial quagmire. The Territorial government finally twigged and did a forensic audit and now several officials are now being investigated by the RCMP.
CBC North reports that: Andre Carrel, Dawson’s former financial administrator, says both governments should have known Dawson was on a path to bankruptcy…. Dawson’s problems go back to the late 1990s when the city took on too many expensive projects. (emphasis ours)… He also has harsh criticism for former mayor Glen
Everitt, saying he created an atmosphere in which managers and other council members were reluctant to challenge him. “The Mayor dominated the organization,” writes Carrel. “He was in a position to control and manage the information available to other Council members. “Professional managers, who should have provided guidance for Council in the area of expertise for which they were paid, were instead submissive …”

Another reports says: the forensic audit details the town’s six-year slide into financial chaos. It points to hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate spending by three town officials, and details more than $20,000 in missing bank deposits. Auditor Ian Doddington says the town books were manipulated by “window dressing” to cover up many of the unauthorized debts. His report is also critical of the town’s previous auditor for not raising the alarm about the misspending . (emphasis ours)

The audit itself is a very instructive document. It certainly suggests to us a number of questions worth asking any Town administration.

All of this underscores the importance of becoming more aware of our municipal affairs, comments one resident on the Dawson City Forum Another says: It is our responsibility to ensure that this state of affairs never happens again. We must do our best to create an atmosphere where people can ask questions and get answers without a “smoke screen”. Transparent governance is paramount ( emphasis ours) to our recovery. When we finally return to democracy, please elect people who ask questions, who don’t pretend to have all the answers, who have open minds (but not gullible ones). Having the best interests of this community in mind is essential to anyone wishing to be a member of Council, but it cannot be the only requirement; it just isn’t enough. Their allegiance must be to the community, not to the Mayor.

Hear, hear.

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