Town paid rent and for renos at former CAO’s buildings

395 Fletcher St. - the building formerly owned by Petrolia's former CAO which the town is renting for storage

The Town of Petrolia was paying for renovation supplies for 395 Fletcher St. two days before the former CAO owned the building.
Manny Baron also received $2,400 in rent from the town for 4168 Robert St. even though he publicly stated the town was not footing the bill.
That’s just two items found in documents released to The Independent by the town under the Municipal Freedom of Information Act.
Baron owned both buildings through a numbered company. The former CAO didn’t disclose he owned them publicly and mislead council saying Developer Horst Richter owned 395 Fletcher even though Baron’s numbered company owned the building for 11 days. After an investigation by an independent investigator, Baron resigned.
But many questions were left unanswered including if municipal money was put into the properties owned by Baron.
The town released just three documents relating to the storage space on Fletcher St. A chart shows the town spent $466.64 in wages to secure the building with plywood and for general clean up. Another $605 was registered in equipment charges to the building.
Just two invoices were released. One invoice shows tipping fees of $179.93 at 395 Fletcher. The other is for material used in the building including plywood and screws totalling $552.21. It’s dated two days before Baron took possession of the building. The signature of the town official who approved payment of the bill was blacked out, as was the Petrolia company which provided the service.
Under the act, municipalities can withhold the names of third parties if, among other things, it could reveal trade secrets, prejudice a competitive situation, cause undue loss to a person or institution or if it was due to labour relations. It’s not clear if employees are considered third parties.
The documents also show the former CAO’s numbered company was paid $2,400 in rent – first and last month’s rent and $800 for the month of April.
The Independent’s request to release the cashed cheques for rent couldn’t be provided because “the record did not exist.”
Baron told The Independent in October he didn’t disclose he owned the buildings to council because the town was getting the building “rent free.” Councillor Ross O’Hara later said Baron told him the town was paying $1,800 in utilities in lieu of rent.
The town was paying utilities on the building. It paid $2,678.15 in utilities from March to Nov. 2 according to the town’s documents.
When the centre was first proposed, $1,800 was budgeted for the entire year.
Council Monday approved a contract with Baron’s numbered company to pay utilities in lieu of rent until the end of the one year trial of the youth/seniors centre.
Town administrators suggested the bill would be about $200 per month even though all of the bills invoiced so far were over that mark with one reaching almost $650.
The town also put cash into the renovation of the youth centre on Robert St. Documents show $2,735.66 of invoices for items ranging from paint, labour and over $1,000 in miscellaneous repairs.
The town also documents $198.10 in costs for cutting and trimming the lawn and spraying for weeds by town employees.
The Independent also requested the original lease agreement. There wasn’t one.
Requests for staff meeting minutes about setting up the new centre also did not exist.