City of Winnipeg investigation finds lack of financial oversight at Osborne Village BIZ

A report from the City of Winnipeg's audit department has found the organization had a lack of financial oversight in 2018. Zahra Premji / Global News / File

A city investigation has found a lack of financial oversight at the Osborne Village BIZ led to bounced cheques and financial irregularities in 2018.

Current Osborne BIZ executive director Brian Timmerman, who started the job in 2019, said the not-for-profit first ordered an audit when financial issues came to light in 2018. A city report on an investigation into the financial troubles shows the BIZ received $130,197 in city money that year.

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The report, which comes from the city’s audit department, says investigators found 35 non-sufficient fund (NSF) transactions with fees totalling $1,207.00, transactions without proper supporting documentation and 37 cheques written without adequate signatures.

“The investigation identified there was a lack of oversight and consequently a lack of proper authorization on several transactions,” reads the city report, coming before city council’s executive policy committee at their Sept. 21 meeting.

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Click to play video: 'Osborne Village Biz'
Osborne Village Biz

The report also found the BIZ hadn’t provided the city with audited financial statements for the four years between 2014 and 2018, something required under a city bylaw.

Timmerman said those financial statements have all since been submitted to the city, and the organization has moved quickly to act on the bad practices outlined in the audit, including hiring a human resources expert to help bring policies and guidelines up to date.

He stressed the audit found no reason for further investigation by police.

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“Nobody has ever said that it rose to the level of criminality,” he said, adding that all outstanding debts have been paid.

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The city’s report makes a number of recommendations for the BIZ, which it notes are transferable to any of the city’s 16 Business Improvement Zones.

The recommendations include having the BIZ’s treasurer write an online review of bank transactions on a monthly basis and ensuring the BIZ’s executive director makes sure source deduction and GST remittances are up to date in the BIZ’s monthly minutes.

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Osborne Village in midst of major overhaul

The report notes the Osborne Village BIZ has since created a new policy manual that “appears to address many of the internal control weaknesses evident in 2018.”

Timmerman said the BIZ has also hired the accountant who originally did the audit to do all of the BIZ’s accounting work, and the organization’s new treasurer is also an accountant.

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“The organization has taken a number of steps to make sure that moving forward we adhere to recognize financial practices,” he said.

“So we have a framework going forward as to how we conduct business.”

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Trio of turkeys loitering near Osborne Village

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