Wednesday, May 27, 2020

"Stay the Course ... it's clear it's working": the call from Prince Rupert's Chief Finance Officer as Council receives 2019 audited statements

Monday night offered the City's council members the opportunity to receive a report from the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben, who outlined some of the findings of the 2019 Audited Financial Statement, noting how the numbers on the balance sheets don't tell the whole story of the challenges and successes that the city faces these days.

The presentation which was at times focused more on positioning statements than a recitation of financial themes, noted how the City's Financial position has continued to improve.

In her review of the document from accountants Carlyle Sheppard and Company, Ms. Bomben made note of the welcome change from themes of years past.

Towards that shift she attributed that improving financial situation through the success of Legacy Inc and CityWest, increased tax revenue from new industrial investment along with grant support from both levels of senior government, all of which has allowed the city to reverse the trend of dwindling cash reserves and minimal capital investment.

The CFO did make note of two current challenges for the city however, the first the deferred capital expenditures and the COVID pandemic, observing how the latter now brings some significant uncertainty towards economic activity and investment, noting how undoubtedly there be impacts to civic revenue streams owing to COVID 19.

On capital expenditures she noted that while it was not recorded as part of the city's financial statements  the lack of reinvestment into capital infrastructure during the recent 20 year localized recession has left the city in a position where much of it is long overdue for replacement leaving the city to play catch up.

Towards those issues, she recounted many of the themes that have often been presented at this time of the year, following the delivery of previous reports. 

From her review she noted on the need for a new RCMP detachment which is required by the Federal government and to be replaced at the city's cost. She also observed as to the requirement of an expansion of the landfill site with a new cell, how  roads need more extensive paving than in years previous, as well as how water-main breaks continue to provide challenges and infrastructure at parks and recreation facilities is also in need of replacement.

Ms. Bomben highlighted that while it all sounds like bad news, there is a difference into 2020 with the city looking towards shrinking its infrastructure deficit, noting on additional paving plans, work towards funding the new RCMP detachment, the progress of the city's  water projects and the expansion of the new landfill cell.

She noted on the progress that the city has made, the sense of teamwork that is helping the city move forward and advocate for the needs of the community.

"If we continue pressing on to renew our city, we may actually dig out of this deficit, that is not something we could have said ten years ago. We are making progress and will continue forward. These 2019 statements reflect an improved port economy, the fruition of teamwork by staff and officials to advocate for the needs of the community and that investment into city services and infrastructure pays off. Stay the course, it's clear it's working" -- City Financial Officer, Corrine Bomben

For his part Mayor Brain paid tribute to city staff for their efforts and noted how everyone had bought into the vision, and how collectively everyone was moving together in one direction.

He observed as to the tough times that the pandemic have provided for the community and how the public should be thankful for the leadership of staff and how they have helped the community move forward.

"Thank You and once again, I think we say this more often than not now, to our staff for doing such an awesome job with our finances, with all the projects that we're managing. For buying into the vision and all of us collectively moving in one direction together. And I think it's been a tough time through this pandemic but I know that without your guys' effort and backbone to keep things moving, this community should be very thankful for your guys' leadership" -- Mayor Lee Brain speaking to the work of City Staff 

As for any comments on the actual audited financial statement, the City Councillors had no questions to ask towards any of the elements from the financial review that Ms. Bomben had outlined during her three minute presentation.

They will have a second chance to seek further information next month when the CFO and City Manager deliver the city's Annual Report presentation, which will more than likely echo many of the themes offered up from her review of Monday.

For their contribution to the discussion on the night, the councillors did however join in with Mayor Brain to express their own appreciation  of the work of city staff.

For their part, Councillors Randhawa and Skelton-Morven and Niesh all concurred with the Mayor's sentiments.

Councillor Cunningham added that he believes everyone was quite happy with the way the city is running right now.

While Councillor Adey also expressed his happiness with the job that is being done and expressed his confidence in their ability to manage any challenges ahead.

Those with an interest in the Report from the Auditors can explore it's review from the Monday Agenda package here.

You can follow the discussion on the presentation from the City's Video Archive page, starting at the five minute mark.

For more notes related to the City's financial themes see our archive page here.

Further background on Monday's Council session can be found from our Council Timeline Feature, while a wider overview of Council discussion themes can be reviewed here.

1 comment:

  1. Had a look at the financials. Spotted the Legacy Fund had spent $40,515 on travel in 2019. Went back check 2018 $67,814 was spent in travel, to put into perspective I think our paving budget for 2018 was around $400,000. So, we spent very close to 17% of the city’s paving budget on travel’ Something is out of whack.
    Who is doing this traveling? The Legacy Fund has consultants that usually book and bill their travel with the consultant invoice. How many employees does the Legacy Fund have?
    Is city administration traveling on Legacy Fund account? Somehow this seems wrong. Travel with the city has to be reported and expenses made public. Why would the travel expenses in the Legacy Fund not contain the same information?

    Here is something council should question. Better yet the mayor explain!