Mayor Andy Adams thanked city staff at Monday’s council meeting for taking measures to avoid borrowing to pay its bills – a practice Adams recently called the regional district out on.
During a review of the city’s 2014 financial statements, Adams acknowledged a footnote that explains that the city has an unappropriated surplus account that it can use to pay any bills that come in before the city collects its tax revenues.
Adams praised city staff for having that account available.
“I just want to thank staff and the finance department for proactively covering off our operating expenses, knowing that our fiscal year starts January one but our revenues don’t start coming in – as we’ve seen people lining up over the last couple of weeks to pay their property taxes – (until) the beginning of July so that we’ve got a carry over.
“So thank you for that,” Adams added.
It was just two weeks ago that Adams was surprised to learn that the Strathcona Regional District board of directors – which Adams also sits on – does not employ a similar practise.
Instead, regional district staff each year ask for approval from the board for authorization to borrow money in the event bills come in that the regional district can’t pay until it receives its tax revenues on August 1.
Dawn Christenson, Strathcona Regional District financial services manager, suggested at the June 10 board meeting that the regional board could implement a policy dictating a bottom line for that organization’s appropriated surplus reserve.
“Certainly the board could have a policy saying at no time will the appropriated surplus fall below a certain level and that would provide for enough cash to pay the bills before we receive the cash on August 1,” Christenson said.
It surprised Adams that the regional district didn’t already have such a policy and he promised to address it come financial planning time.
“I will be pushing extremely hard at budget time to get our act together on accumulated surplus,” Adams said.