By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FREEPORT - Minister of Local Government V Alfred Gray met with island administrators and local government officials on Grand Bahama on Monday.
He said administrators and councillors must serve with transparency, integrity, and accountability when dealing with the public's money.
Minister Gray stressed that they must not let their character be compromised by the Almighty dollar.
"I have become aware that (some) councillors are of the view that they do not need to account to the Central Government via the administrator for what they do financially.
"I expect that the administrators who work on this island, and with the councillors, that you will not sign a voucher if you have not seen or have not been able to verify that what you are paying for has been done, or has been done in accordance with the contractual arrangements," he warned.
Mr Gray told administrators that they should not sign off simply because the council says that they should.
He noted that there have been instances where contracts were given to friends and families who have not completed the work, but vouchers were signed off anyway for payment.
"I am imploring you as councillors to ensure that whenever you present a voucher to the administrator for payment that you are well sure that the work is done. Administrators, if in doubt, check it out because the buck stops with you."
Mr Gray told the group they must remember five important things while serving in their capacity - commitment, integrity, transparency, accountability, and communication.
He told them not to be tempted into taking bribes, and always conduct council business on the table.
"Don't let your character be compromised by the dollar. Those who deal with public money, serve with transparency and integrity," he warned.
"You are accountable to Central government and the Auditor General. Whatever you do in the financial scheme of things, somebody will look at it somewhere, sometime."
Mr Gray warned that persons who spend local government funds on things other than council business, will be asked to repay it.
"While you have a budget to work with, you must use good judgment and only do those things with the money that you were given to do for the benefit of the people you serve.
"Once you go outside of that, you could be asked to pay it back personally. This minister likes to talk before he acts. I will not refuse to act and I am not afraid to act. But it is my duty to tell you when you spend the public's money without authority, you will be asked to pay it back personally."
Mr Gray also said that councillors and the chief councilor must also communicate with each other. The chief councilor, he said, should not make decisions without his councillors being present, unless there is an emergency.