OPS Ferguson settlement had “no impact” on budget: Williams

September 29, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Mayor Jeremy Williams says the settlement last November of a $4.3-million lawsuit against the Orangeville Police Service (OPS) stemming from the 2009 murder of Heidi Ferguson has had ‘no impact’ on the Town’s budgeting.

At Monday night’s town council meeting, Councillor Sylvia Bradley pressed Mayor Williams for an answer regarding who exactly was on the hook for the settlement.

As reported in last week’s Citizen, the OPS confirmed it had settled a civil lawsuit with the family of Heidi Ferguson five years after her brother, Troy Bogner, launched a $4.3 million claim against the local force. In that suit, Mr. Bogner alleged that responding officers failed in their duty to protect his sister, Heidi, on the night that her estranged husband Hugh shot and killed her at the Orangeville home she shared with their children.

Responding to a request for more information, Chair of the Orangeville Police Services Board Ken Krakar told the Citizen the two parties had resolved the issue approximately 10 months ago, but provided no details.

“We can confirm that a settlement was reached, on Nov. 15, 2016,” Mr. Krakar stated. “Any and all terms of the settlement are confidential pursuant to a non-disclosure provision.”

It’s here that Ms. Bradley, and at least one local resident, has taken exception. She first asked why the public was not notified that an agreement had been reached regarding this lawsuit last year, expressing concern that she had to find out about it through local media.

Non-disclosure regarding the amount of the settlement is something that clearly irritated Coun. Bradley. She pushed further, asking the Mayor who would be on the hook for paying out the settlement.

“Who exactly is paying? You should know, you’re on the board… If taxpayers are paying for this, they should be informed of that. That (the number) shouldn’t be a secret, it should be public knowledge,” Coun. Bradley said.

Mayor Williams referred Coun. Bradley to the Police Services Board, stating that if she wanted further clarity she should attend a future meeting of the board.

The issue did not stop at council, as one resident, Peter Jovic, submitted a letter to local media expressing his “disgust” at the way the mayor handled the situation. In a prompt reply, Mayor Williams did offer  more insight as to who is paying for the settlement: “In general… Liability insurance covers these kind of incidents. Potential financial exposure of court cases beyond what liability insurance may cover are generally included as contingency funds as required,” the mayor wrote in an email.

He added, “The settlement has no impact on the 2017 budget.”

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