Council hires consultant to clear up anomalies in budget

Photo David Dodge. Morrin Welcome sign
Written by ECA Review

Morrin council motioned in a 2 – 1 recorded vote to hire municipal financial consultant, Tamara Sloboda, chartered professional accountant to assist council with the 2020 budget following a list of anomalies in the proposed budget at a special meeting held by conference call Tues. June 9. Deputy Mayor M’Liss Edwards was opposed.

Mayor Helton noted in the 2020 proposed budget it listed new trees and demolition of property as operating, however, Helton understands it to be a capital expense.

He also questioned the payment of the $127,463 to Starland County in 2020.

“Does it not have to be in the 2020 budget and would not the generator and electric pump for the water plant be Capital?” noted Helton.

“They’re operating,” replied Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner.

“Actually I believe they’re capital [expenditures],” stated Helton. “I guess we’ll have to delve into that and get some advice.”

Helton also questioned that although the generator was budgeted for in 2019, it was not paid until 2020, so would not the entire amount have to be in the 2020 budget?”

“I’m not really sure on that because like I said, the generator has already been taken out of there,” answered Plachner.

Helton also noted it was his understanding that the budget between revenues and expenditures must balance, which they did not when council signed the 2019 Budget.

“When this bylaw was signed it should have reflected the $542,800, not $501,000,” said Helton.

“But that was missed because you did so many changes last year,” stated CAO Plachner.

“It would not have been missed if we watched the budget before we signed that,” said Helton. “That’s what’s happened, is we missed it, I missed it. Regardless of the circumstance, it has to balance. The revenue and expenditures have to balance.”

Helton pointed out, the Drumheller Senior’s Foundation should be a requisition, not an operating expense.

“The Drumheller Foundation is always operating,” stated CAO Plachner.

When I got looking here [2018 Audited Financial Statements], it’s actually under requisitions,” Helton noted.

He added, “When you go back to the auditors financial statements they are showing the Alberta School Fund and the Drumheller and District Seniors as a requisition but on the bylaw we’ve been signing, the requisition for tax levy is the School Foundation and not the Seniors Foundation, so my understanding by not doing that, we are not recovering that through a tax levy.

“You don’t recover it through a tax levy, it’s operating and your operations are paid by taxes,” said CAO Plachner.

“I’m not an expert,” said Helton, “but my underatanding is requisitions are recovered through a tax levy but you’re saying they are not necessarily covered through a tax levy? Is that my understanding from you?” 

“Yes, that is correct,” CAO Plachner.

“So that’s another thing I want further clarification on,” stated Helton.

The proposed budget is already showing a loss of $36,000.  

“Where?” responded Plachner.

“It’s on the page of Estimated Operating Expenses,” answered Coun. Edwards.

Howard also questioned the delay of the Audited Financial Statements for 2019 which have been held up due to Municipal Affairs adjusting the Statement of Funding and Expenditures that had to go back to 2009.”

“That has nothing to do with the budget,” stated CAO Plachner “That is for the MSI grant funding. It doesn’t affect the budget in any way,” said Plachner.

“My understanding Municipal Affairs required those figures in order to adjust operating and capital,” said  Helton. “That might have been some capital used for operating; operating used for capital.  That’s the gist I get from it. 

“When all that sorts out that might affect what we might have to deal with it this year”, adding “What figure is that going to affect when all those adjustments are made from that time period, more or less 20 years?

“That’s what is holding us up as seeing the financial statements. You, [CAO] informed council that we couldn’t do a budget back in December and then again this spring that we couldn’t do a budget until we had the figures from the auditors.  So now we are trying to do a budget without figures from the auditors? Am I not correct?”

“I got the actual figures off of my computer which is very time consuming but I did it anyway,” CAO Plachner.

“We spent monies that weren’t even budgeted last year,” said Plachner.

“Exactly, and those expenditures were obviously authorized by council and to my point, the buck stops with the council,” said Mayor Helton. 

“Remember that before those expenditures were approved the CAO was asked, could we make those or afford those and the answer was always affirmative. Part of the role of the CAO, of course, is to inform council and as important as that was, that would be the occasion to do that.

“All council has to take responsibility, not just the mayor, as I recall there was no opposition to that,” continued Helton. “Any decisions we make here and put our name to it ultimately comes back to council, so going forward I want to ensure that I have all the correct information so I’m not thrown under the bus.”

“I’ll take responsibility for everything that I do incorrectly. I don’t worry about being criticized, I don’t mind criticism, I just don’t want to be criticized for the right things.”

“If we are talking about things, there was $142,000 thrown into the budget for a CAO package and anyone that’s on the line I would like to record, that was slipped in there [budget] even after council had turned it down.”

“You left it in there, you know it was in there,” stated CAO Plachner, “and you signed it.”

“We didn’t spend it,” said Helton.


J. Webster

ECA Review

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