A special meeting was held by Moose Jaw Pride on Sunday, where the membership voted in favour of authorizing its board to commence, conduct and complete the liquidation and dissolution of the non-profit organization.
This comes after the board learned in August of over $100,000 in liabilities including unpaid loans, bills and taxes. The board noted that the financials have not been audited and the board members are still investigating and piecing together what liabilities are owed.
The board started realizing they needed to investigate in early 2022. Board chair Cole Ramsey had been contacted by the grant agency about missing reports that the board was unaware of, which began to raise red flags.
Ramsey said, in the past couple of years when the board has asked for financial statements, they’ve been told that the monthly statements were not available because the accountant was working on the records or they were simply oral financial reports. The board now believes this was not true that an accountant was going over the financial statements.
“We did not discover until Aug. 3, 2022, that we in fact had no accountant employed since 2020, there had been no accounting work done in 2021. The payment there was only to cover monthly records up to 2020,” Ramsey said.
The board was asked if the police are involved, which Ramsey replied they were. Pride’s board has also been consulting with lawyers on how to move forward.
The board came before its members that the only way to discharge most of the liabilities was through liquidation and dissolution considering Pride’s financial status and the belief that its liabilities will only increase as the investigation continues. There would still be some liabilities that will become the responsibility of the board members.
Because Moose Jaw Pride has relied heavily on grants, Ramsey noted some grants would allow for a percentage to go towards debt, but it wouldn’t be enough to pay off all of the liabilities.
“We would not be able to address over $100,000 of liabilities by using 10, 15, 20 per cent of future grants to address them chunk by chunk. The interest payments alone would eat that up and it would require us to keep incurring expenses,” they said.
Ramsey added, that if the organization can come up with the money to pay off the liabilities in a short period of time, the dissolution can be called off.
Ramsey noted that liquidation and dissolution will discharge many of the liabilities, but there will be some liabilities that the board members will be held responsible for.
During Moose Jaw Pride’s annual general meeting, the board presented what they could piece together for its financial records for 2021 and up to Aug. 31 of this year.
In 2021, Moose Jaw Pride had total liabilities and shareholder equity of over $87,000. This included $60,000 from a CEBA loan, $25,000 from a short-term bank loan, $3,777 from grants overpayments that needed to be returned, $1,112 for a photocopier rental and $2,492 for a Moose Jaw Pride credit card that the board also learned about in August.
The board was also made aware of PST and GST taxes due but has been unable to access their tax records at this time to find out how much is due.
Under expenses, the board found $12,267.64 in credit card transactions and $29,142 in unaccounted-for cash from the Rainbow Retro Thrift Store.
To date in 2022, the liabilities grew to $100,209 including $60,000 for CEBA, $30,000 from the bank loan as an additional $5,000 loan was taken out in January of 2022. The water bill for the building had over $5,600 outstanding on it and the photocopier rental was over one year without payment.
Additionally, with Rainbow Retro, $12,024 in cash was unaccounted for. Ramsey believes the unaccounted-for cash could have been used for day-to-day operations, but there are no records.
It was also noted in the 2022 expenses, that $1,447 was paid for insurance for Rainbow Retro. Moose Jaw Pride’s insurance, as an organization, was not paid.
As for assets, as of Aug. 31, the board said they have just over $15,000 but it is awaiting an appraisal of an older van that was donated to Moose Jaw Pride. The current location of the van is unknown and Ramsey said the Moose Jaw Police Service is investigating the van’s location.
A number of former board chairs were in attendance and voiced their support for the current board and the situation they have been put in. A statement was also read Joe Wickenheiser, a founding member of Moose Jaw Pride and former executive director, thanking the board and Wickenheiser’s appreciation for everything one who helped with Moose Jaw Pride over the years.
Ramsey was confident that the work of Moose Jaw Pride will continue in the community but likely in a more scaled-back form of volunteers.
Executive director of the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre Sarah Simison said she has booked space at their facility for Pride events in June and offered the Cultural Centre’s support in keeping LGBTQ events going even if Moose Jaw Pride is running in its current form.
Historically, Moose Jaw’s first gay and lesbian pride weekend was held in 1993. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Moose Jaw (GLAMJ) was formed in 2004. Moose Jaw Pride was incorporated as a non-profit group in 2014 and its first office was opened in 2016.