Categorized | Mike's Column

Mike’s rant — “Magic” dividend continues to amaze

Ya know, there are a few hearty souls – see suffered oxygen deprivation at some point in their lives – who are still paying attention to all the goings on regarding Grimsby Energy, Grimsby Power, Niagara Power, Holdco2 (whatever their flavour of the day is).

There is so much I wish I could unsee about this sordid process, but, here we are.

Monday night, Ald. Carolyn Mullins attempted to clear the waters on a long-debated 2010 dividend that was not a dividend or a receivable, apparently.

I printed Mullins’ report, which she read aloud at Monday’s council meeting, in its entirety with no editing. Anything I do related to hydro I have been recording or written via emails for years so every bit of information can be tracked.

It has provided considerable entertainment, – yes, I realize I am a warped individual – to look back at some of the emails to see what was projected compared to what has transpired.

So with Mullins report, every bit of what she purported is there for all to see.

Again, as so often happens with this council and just about every single thing relating to Grimsby Energy, it is what is NOT there where the true story lies.

Fundamental to Mullins’ theory of the magic dividend is her claim that the $122,000 which has been bandied about as still owing to the Town – as was the belief of Grimsby top two bureaucrats of the day, town manager Keith Vogl and director of finance Steve Gruninger – was incorporated into a $734,000 payment in June 2010, according to NPI meeting minutes of June 2010.

The financial statement for the Year End Dec. 31, 2010 shows that payment of $734,850 and it is noted at the bottom of the page titled “Investment in Niagara Power Incorporated (continued)”.

My question is, if a dividend is declared from fiscal 2010 how could it be paid within another umbrella payment within that same fiscal year – before a Year End. Anything is possible, I suppose.

According to a spreadsheet supplied by Mullins, it notes in comments with the document, “2011 NPI owed $122,157 as a dividend for 2010”, but her comment Monday was that the magic dividend was actually paid as part of that larger “dividend” in June 2010.

Both cannot be true.

Either it was paid in June 2010 or it was still owing in 2011? Which is it?

It is that kind of confusion which must have confused the then town manager Keith Vogl who still had the 2010 magic “dividend” as owing $122,157 to the Town in Aug. 2015 when he filed a detailed memorandum with the Finance And Administration Committee. This document was received by the committee and, ultimately council, unchanged.

Again, both cannot be true!

Either, as Mullins purports it is all a misunderstanding and the magic dividend was neatly rolled into a payment long ago – but it would seem NOBODY was told of this at the Town end – or the former town manager and director of finance are right, it was never paid and is still owing.

Is there an agenda item and/or minutes some place which would show discussion of this option and an approved motion to do so?

This is the Town’s money after all, so one might think taxpayers should be given some clue, some sense of knowledge as to what is happening with their money.

The problem for me is, as with so many other Grimsby hydro-related issues, I simply don’t believe a shred of what is being portrayed here.

Clearly, going by Vogl’s 2015 memorandum the $122,000 “dividend payable’ came after the $734,000 was paid, or it would not have shown up in a report accepted and approved by council more than five years after Mullins claimed it was paid in June 2010.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who looks at these documents will see it does not pass the smell test and when all of council sits there like bumps on a log saying, “ok, Carolyn, sounds good!” and the crowing about how much hydro has pumped into Town coffers (and at first glance I see a 1.5 per cent rate of return there, but more on that later), it is downright sad!

Again, if the $122K is never paid, I don’t care. It won’t ruin the Town, but when everything is so fast and loose, big dollars get shifted to match a preferred history instead of portraying fact, that is with what I take issue.

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