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Doubts being raised whether businesses will be paid for services
Over a month after the conclusion of the 2019 St. Anthony Come Home Year, a number of businesses and individuals are still waiting to be paid for their services.
Hope, for some, that they’ll see a dime is starting to run out.
The Come Home Year was held this year July 20-27, the town’s third Come Home Year since 2012.
Information about payments still being owed came to public attention with an August Facebook post by St. Anthony resident Mitchell Hunt.
Hunt, who was hired on as the sound engineer for the event, revealed he was still owed $21,000 of the $25,000 he charged the committee.
"I wish I had never got involved.” — Mitchell Hunt
All the sound equipment Hunt purchased and rented for the event came at his own expense, he told The Northern Pen.
He had also rented a van to have equipment brought around to various events and hired on his father to help out with the sound while he was at work throughout the week.
“Nowhere throughout the event did anyone say there’s the possibility you won’t get paid,” said Hunt.
So, it came as a surprise to him when only a small portion of what he charged was available for him.
“It’s very frustrating, I put a lot of time into it and I made it go off without a hitch,” he said. “But I didn’t get paid. I wish I had never got involved.”
Marilyn Walker, the chair of the 2019 St. Anthony Come Home Year Committee, declined comment to The Northern Pen.
St. Anthony RCMP Cpl. Shane Clarke confirmed a complaint has been brought forward to the RCMP regarding the 2019 St. Anthony Come Home Year, in relation to unpaid financial compensation.
Cpl. Clarke said RCMP is still gathering information and the investigation is in its initial stages.
Clarke would not confirm who brought forward the complaint or who it was brought against.
“It’s fine for everybody who had a good time, but this has turned into a nightmare for a lot of people, myself included,” said Hunt.
He isn’t the only one left wanting.
The Northern Pen contacted several parties who provided services for the event, including Hunt, and arrived at an estimate of $43,000 still owing by the committee.
Hunt said he did his own canvassing of the parties involved and figures roughly $60,000 is outstanding. The Come Home Year committee has not provided confirmation of either figure.
The Come Home Year committee's financial statement, shared to its Facebook page, states that approximately $63,000 was generated in revenue with about $89,000 in expenditures, leaving the committee $26,000 short.
However, the numbers arrived at by both The Northern Pen and by Hunt exceeds the $26,000 deficit the committee published.
Therefore, Hunt believes there should be additional funds lying around to pay him and the others at least a percentage of what they're owed.
He’s wondering what happened to this money.
Waiting to be paid
Bradley Genge of Genge’s Electrical, a business based in St. Anthony, wishes the committee would come forward, show him and the others what money they took in and what was still owed.
Then, he says, they could be given a percentage of what is owed.
For example, Genge is owed $3,492.45 for running electrical to the tent the Come Home Year used at the Royal Canadian Legion parking lot.
He says it would give him some peace of mind just to be paid a percentage of that bill.
But all he’s been told by the committee is that there’s no money left to pay him.
“I’m not saying they’re not going to be paying me, but I don’t have the money yet, and it sounds like, to me, they don’t have the money,” he told The Northern Pen.
Genge said everything the Come Home Year committee was charged — including permits, labour, materials and taxes, was itemized on his bill.
Cory Colbourne, a St. Anthony native who returned home for the event, is waiting for payment as well.
A musician, currently living in Ontario, Colbourne travelled home with his four-member band TheOtherKrow for the St. Anthony Come Home Year.
"...positive feelings don’t pay the bills and there’s bills to be paid.” — Gary Colbourne
According to Colbourne, he had reached an agreement with the committee to commission a theme song he wrote for the Come Home Year, “Here We Are at Home,” to perform a concert with his band, and to co-host the memorial event for his father.
He said he was offered a sum for his services but did not disclose the amount.
However, as of Sept. 5, Colbourne still hadn’t received compensation.
He didn’t wish to conjecture where the money has gone without having all the facts at his disposal.
He simply wishes to collect what is due to him.
“I don’t want to participate in hearsay or throw people under the bus,” Colbourne said. “All I want is, in a respectful manner, to collect my dues.”
He said he has expressed his diminishing patience to the committee but, as time marches on, he grows less optimistic about being paid.
Despite the financial shortcomings, Colbourne did not regret taking the opportunity to return home and perform before friends and family.
“The positive feelings I got from seeing all my old pals and family hanging out in front of me while I was performing, and to see how people responded to the song I wrote and all that, will never be outweighed by the bad of not having been paid. Never. It’s something that is irreplaceable,” he said. “But the problem is that those positive feelings don’t pay the bills and there’s bills to be paid.”
Henry Rose of St. Anthony runs a shuttle service from the St. Anthony airport.
He was hired by the committee to transport Green River Revival, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band the Come Home Year event recruited to perform.
The band was flown in to Deer Lake where Rose sent one of his drivers to pick them up and drive them back to St. Anthony.
Unfortunately, the flight was seven hours late and Rose incurred more expenses.
He said he was later contacted by the committee and told his services weren’t needed to drive the band back to Deer Lake.
He ended up charging the committee about $1,350 plus taxes, he shared.
Rose hasn’t been paid and he’s pessimistic he or anyone else will see payment.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t expect to get the money,” Rose said. “People aren’t going to get their money anyways, because if the money is gone, the money is gone. Wherever it went to, I don’t know.”
Former committee member left over financial concerns
Ashley Byrne isn’t surprised that things have gone awry.
She was one of five individuals initially comprising the St. Anthony 2019 Come Home Year Committee.
However, she left the group in March over concerns with the number of registrations.
At that point, it was just Byrne, chair Marilyn Walker and co-chair Dale Richards, who lives in Ontario. Two other members had already left the committee.
Byrne told The Northern Pen the three of them together had decided if the number of registrations hadn’t reached 500 by the end of February, they would cancel the Come Home Year.
By the first week of March, she recalled, they had approximately 368 registrations. The final number, in the committee’s financial statement, was 412.
She wanted to cancel the event, but Walker and Richards demurred.
“There was no other money, so it was a gamble on if people would show up and spend enough to cover the bills.” Ashley Byrne
Byrne left the committee, concerned they would be unable to pay the bills.
“Based on registration numbers, the money wasn’t there to pay for what we had planned,” she said. “There was no other money, so it was a gamble on if people would show up and spend enough to cover the bills.”
Nevertheless, the committee continued on with just Walker and Richards.
Byrne also believes the committee was irresponsible by not fundraising from the very beginning.
“I wanted to start fundraising from the start,” she said. “Have the money in the bank to host the event. That didn’t happen, of course.”
She said excuses were made, the committee procrastinated, and, for the better part of a year, she was the only committee member in St. Anthony.
Byrne was not surprised the committee was unable to pay all its dues. She was “shocked” at just how much they owed, according to Mitchell Hunt’s calculations.
“That’s a lot of money to go unaccounted for,” she said.