Still counting costs
Property Owners Association submits bill for secret meeting case

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 04/98) - The check is not in the mail.

The latest of several attempts by the Yellowknife Property Owners Association to collect costs it was awarded at the conclusion of the secret meetings case is not good enough, says city clerk Tim Mercer.

"Under no circumstances are we trying to be difficult here," said Mercer. "But, what we were provided with is a two-page summary of invoice dates and amounts. There's no indication of what those were for."

In handing down his May 27 ruling against secret meetings, NWT Supreme Court Justice Howard Irving ordered the city to pay a portion of the association's legal expenses.

According to Yellowknife Property Owners Association acting president Mike Byrne, total costs the association bore are $85,052.83. Byrne said the association is asking council to pay 60 per cent of that amount, $51,031.70.

Mercer said the statement, submitted Nov. 20, included $10,000 in general charges for association meetings. He said the city is still awaiting the information, called a bill of costs, which forms the basis of determining the dollar amount of the costs awarded the association.

The association has received a bill of costs from its lawyer, Byrne said. He would not say what the total of that bill is. He said the association believes, on the basis of comments made by councillors, the city was willing to write a cheque for 60 per cent of the association's costs for getting a decision, including money not in the bill of costs.

"If the city wants to nickel and dime us to death and pay us the bare minimum, that's its business," said Byrne. He said the association is awaiting the city's response to the information submitted.

Byrne added that the $10,000 figure Mercer mentioned included the cost of flying up and accommodating association witness Dick Peplow, a former councillor and outspoken critic of secret meetings.

"The city has requested documentation regarding our costs and we've provided that," said Byrne. "What we're trying to do is avoid either party having to spend more money on lawyers in this matter."

Twice, since the end of the case, the association has asked the city to pay it $30,000.

Mercer said the city is sending the association a letter thanking them for the information they have provided, but also pointing out it is insufficient.