Town of Stettler council heard during their regular meeting May 5 the municipality’s audited financial statements were given a clean bill of health.
Justin Tanner, representing local accounting firm Gitzel & Co., presented the municipality’s audited 2019 financial statements to councillors.
He stated the majority of the audit was spent on analysis of the town’s operations.
Tanner stated after auditing the 2019 operations, he doesn’t feel there are any financial mistakes and no procedural issues.
“There’s nothing really spectacular that really stands out to me,” said Tanner to council.
After presenting the statements, Tanner stated it may seem like the town has a lot of cash-on-hand, but upon closer inspection, a reader will note $1.9 million are actually unspent grants, $8.7 million are reserves and $100,000 is public land reserves, leaving only about $65,000 not earmarked for any purpose.
He also noted the Town of Stettler didn’t have any new debt in 2019.
Scrolling down into the report Tanner noted the town revenue and expenses equalled the approved budget, so it was obvious someone at the town office is closely watching the budget all year.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer asked about the subject of “materiality” in the report.
Tanner answered that the term and accompanying number is used as a level at which mistakes in the budget would be considered as affecting the outcome of the audit.
Coun. Malcolm Fischer stated he felt the audit revealed the high level of competency and transparency with which the town staff do their jobs and also felt that everyone in Stettler either knows what’s going on at the town office or can quickly find out if they’re curious.
Councillors accepted the audited financial statements.
Switenky gave a report on renovations being done at the Stettler Rec Centre’s aquatic centre by town staff.
He showed a PowerPoint presentation illustrating quite a bit of upgrading, maintenance and renovation work that was scheduled to occur; management decided to have town staff do the work while the aquatic centre was shuttered due to coronavirus measures.
The staff engaged in painting, window caulking, taping, tile replacement, grouting, replacing support brackets for the climbing wall, cleaning out of the chemical room and removing hard scale build-up.
‘We’re way ahead of you’
During committee reports, both Fischer and Nolls reported they’d received a letter from a local resident suggesting the Town of Stettler develop a composting program.
The resident suggested a composting program would help divert waste in the community.
Nolls stated the resident was informed the town was already there.
“We have a composting program that’s been available for years,” said Nolls.
Information about the Town of Stettler composting program is available by phoning the town office.
Physicians and government
Councillors read a letter from Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Barry Morishita regarding the ongoing schism between physicians and the provincial government, particularly rural physicians.
“I am writing to acknowledge that in recent months AUMA has received several concerns from members related to physician funding changes and the resulting impacts on access to health care, particularly in smaller communities,” stated Morishita’s letter dated April 29.
“This includes formal requests for action from municipalities such as the Town of Pincher Creek and Lac La Biche County, as well as numerous emails and phone calls from others.
“Access to appropriate medical care in all communities is critical. Recognizing this, AUMA is also connecting directly with both the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and Alberta Health to gain additional insight into this issue.
“The insight acquired during discussions with AMA and the province will allow AUMA to build a more impactful advocacy strategy to support equitable access to health care for all Albertans.”
Councillors discussed the issue, and Nolls stated Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner has been diligent in representing rural areas on this issue.
Switenky stated some financial issues may have been addressed, but physicians have alluded their trust in the provincial government may have eroded.
Nolls answered that the new deal recently announced by the Health Minister Tyler Shandro looks better than what was available before and the new agreement appears to offer rural physicians a lot of advantages.
Councillors accepted the letter for information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter