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Township given a clean report from auditor, but problems loom

by David Meyer

ELORA - Centre Wellington Township’s finances are all in order.

That was the message from Tom Mennill, of KPMG Chartered Accountants on Sept. 26. He told council he was giving the township “an unqualified and clean audit report.”

He said the township is now conforming to international reporting standards, and that makes the report longer than councillors might have expected.

But, he said, there are “no significant adjustments; there are no significant deficiencies in internal controls; there are no issues of fraud. That’s a good thing.”

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj noted that the township’s assets are “deteriorating faster than we are replacing them.”

She was referring to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and sewage treatment plants.

Mark Bradley, of the township’s finance department, agreed, and said it is the same in other places. And, he added, other municipalities have less time left to undertake their repairs than does Centre Wellington.

Councillor Mary Lloyd noted protective services are now running close to their costs, but planning and development is costing more than its revenues.

Bradley admitted that department “did have a rough year revenue wise.”

The provincial government is forcing municipalities to operate differently than they did in the past.

Bradley explained the township now knows exactly what it owns.

Part of the new rules are municipalities must now plan for replacement of those assets.

He said that could take some time. Bradley noted that Hamilton and Essex County have been through that exercise and “even with a consultant, it took six months. We have 4,500 records.”

Councillor Walt Visser said the township is already working on it.

Bradley said the water department is now completed, but roads and bridges are still to come.

He added the consolation is “most municipalities don’t” have that completed yet.”

Councillors wondered if they can soon get back to having the audit completed and presented in June or July rather than so late in the year.

Bradley explained, “Many municipalities can’t do the reports until July and August because there is not enough staff.”

Ross-Zuj said of the province, “It’s a lofty goal they’ve set for municipalities - that we can’t reach.”

Bradley added much of the work calculating replacement costs should be done by an engineer rather than someone from the finance department.

Councillor Steve VanLeeuwen noted that there was a one per cent decrease in capital investments over the past year.

Bradley said, “We’re slowly moving the wrong way. Many municipalities are moving quickly.”

Council then accepted the auditor’s report.

 

October 7, 2011

 
 

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