Auditor gives Big Valley financial clean ‘bill of health’

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Big Valley’s official auditor gave the municipality a clean bill of health after presenting the results of an analysis of the 2021 financial statements. The discussion was held at the Oct. 13 regular meeting of council.

Justin Tanner of Gitzel & Co. Chartered Accountants presented the results of the company’s analysis of Big Valley’s financial statements ending Dec. 31, 2021.

Tanner pointed out an official auditor’s primary responsibility is to look at the financial information provided by village staff and give their opinion of said information.

Also, Tanner said it’s good for the municipality if the auditor offers some advice or suggestions on what they saw.

Tanner noted that, after examining the 2021 financial statements for the village the official auditor gave the document a clean bill of health.

“I’m pleasantly happy,” said Tanner to council. He said several times during the presentation to council that the audit was clean and that the auditors don’t believe that anything was misstated.

He went through the financial statement with councillors, beginning with the statement of financial position. Tanner pointed out there were some outstanding property taxes that were settled and which showed up as a large payment.

He noted some village payroll remittances were not paid for months, which apparently the provincial government is not fond of.

He also noted $17,000 was being held by the village after a tax recovery sale, and that the money would be kept safely until someone properly claims it. If no one ever claims the money after the proper period ends, the village can keep it.

In 2021 Tanner pointed out the village spent $255,000 on tangible capital assets all of which was paid with grant money.

Looking at tax revenue Tanner noted it was up slightly in 2021 from the previous year. He pointed out the provincial government’s MOST grant helped out quite a bit.

Under expenses, the auditor stated the village paid a little more out in salaries and wages in 2021, and likely it was because COVID restrictions were lifted a bit and there were more parks and recreation staff than the year before.

Tanner spent a bit of time discussing amortization with councillors, which is essentially the depreciation of things owned by the village; during the discussion several strategies were discussed regarding how a municipality can address depreciation, including special reserves, special levy or counting on future grant money.

Councillors asked about a line in the report called “bad debts.”

Tanner stated these are two debts that, in the auditor’s opinion, are virtually noncollectable. They totalled about $9,000 and involved a bankrupt energy company, Trident Exploration, and a lot which garnered no sales interest.

Councillors unanimously accepted the 2021 audited financial statements.

Tanner noted the auditors had a letter of recommendations based on the 2021 financial statements and that it was to be discussed in closed session.

Councillors elected to move into closed session just before 8 p.m. to discuss the letter.

Request for paving
Earlier in the council meeting councillors heard a presentation from property owner Robert Cartier. Cartier noted he owns property on 1st Ave. North and has been there for about 20 years.

He stated that it’s one of the few unpaved roads left in the village and asked that council consider paving it. Cartier told councillors the road is quite busy which results in a lot of sand and dust being thrown up.

He used as an example a monument placed on the adjacent street. Cartier stated four years ago the monument was readable, and after the 48 months of dust and sand, it’s been worn down.

Councillors accepted Cartier’s presentation as information.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.