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Town of Sundre's administration reports stable financial situation

Few residents took advantage of deferral programs
MVT stock sundre office
Administration recently reported to Sundre's council that the municipality's financial situation remains fairly stable, and that few individuals applied for the utility or tax deferral programs. File photo/MVP Staff

SUNDRE — Bringing council up to speed on the municipality’s financial status, Chris Albert, director of corporate services, presented a report on first and second quarter statements.

“As would typically happen, we’d do Q1 earlier in the year, but because of various circumstances, that did not happen,” said Albert during a mid-October teleconference meeting, adding his report primarily focused on the second quarter. 

While recreation and culture funding from Mountain View County has been received, Albert explained the monies just had not yet been allocated among the various departments they’re intended for. 

“That entry hasn’t been made yet,” said Albert, informing council that revenues for certain budget line items like the arena, community centre, parks and community services as a result appear to be substantially lower than 2019’s second quarter. 

“That’s just because the allocation hasn’t been done.”

Totals overall, however, for the municipality and its departments are otherwise “very consistent” with last year, he added.

“That is definitely a good thing.”

Breaking down some highlights from individual departments, Albert said the amount of general services revenue collected was significantly higher than budgeted.

“That’s because we collect the requisition, and we have collected those. But we’ve only paid out half a year’s worth of requisition,” he said, adding that figure will stabilize as the year progresses.

The fire department’s budget for contracted services, meanwhile, is higher than typical, he said, attributing that higher-than-budgeted expense to “legal fees and other outside services that we’ve had to retain due to issues at the fire department.”  

“As a caution, that number will increase as the year goes along. We have not had all of the final costing in yet.”

Bylaw enforcement revenues are also “way down,” he said, citing the pandemic as the primary cause.

The water and wastewater departments’ contracted services expenses were also lower in 2020 than 2019, the result of which being a more extensive need for excavations than usual.

“Council may remember that spring of 2019 was a little frozen, let’s say? There was a lot more excavations that occurred in 2019, so our costs have changed significantly.”

Additionally, he said the municipality’s cash flow is stable.

“We are in really good shape in terms of cash on hand. Most of the tax money did come in in June.”

A few residents applied for the penalty-free tax deferrals until the beginning of October, “but quite a bit of our revenues did come in in the first half of the year, pretty much about where we expected.”

Coun. Paul Isaac asked, with regards to the arena’s delayed opening, whether any information was available as to how revenues would be impacted.

Linda Nelson, chief administrative officer, said she would discuss that issue with the manager of community services and provide a response to council.

Coun. Todd Dalke sought clarification about the tax and utilities deferral programs.

“When we had that discussion, part of the concern was, if they defer for three months, will that amount be due 100 per cent in that three month time? Or would that reprieve beyond the three months, and they would have to pay it by year’s end?” Dalke asked.

Deferrals for taxes and utilities were two separate processes, said Albert.

“In terms of the deferral for the utilities, the amount was due in full at the end of the three month period,” he said.

If the amount owing was not paid in full, then it transitioned to the typical collection process, he said, adding there have not been many such instances.

“A number of individuals did take advantage of the three months, and then subsequently paid their balance, or a large portion of their balance…we didn’t see a huge uptick in people needing that extra time to pay.”

As for the tax deferral, Albert said, “as with any typical tax year, you could pay that any time throughout the year, but there will be penalties applicable.”

However, the municipality waived the July 1 penalty, “but as of October 1st, penalties were applied to accounts,” he said.

Council proceeded to carry Coun. Richard Warnock’s motion to approve the financial statements for information.