Under the Ontario Municipal Act, each Municipality is required to prepare annual audited financial statements. At the Council meeting of September 9, Council accepted and approved the Audited Financial Statement for the 2020 tax year.
Brad Brookman, Director of Finance/Treasurer, explained that this process provides assurance to “the Council and the public that the administration's financial reporting is appropriate.” It is important for businesses, provincial and federal governments, members of the public, and investors to be able to access this information in order to feel certain of North Grenville’s financial health.
The audited financial statements are not intended to verify accuracy or to determine the efficacy of cost management, only to determine that the financial position and controls of the Municipality are, in the opinion of the auditor, fairly presented.
Allan and Partners LLP were the Auditors. Serena Deschamps, of Allan and Partners LLP, stated “We have a clean opinion this year. Which really means the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position [of the Municipality].” Here, consolidated means the operations of the Municipality as a whole, including “the library, the BIA, your Police Services Board, and the North Grenville Community Centre,” clarified Deschamps.
Major changes in North Grenville’s financial situation are due to COVID-19. Operation costs saw a reduction of recreation user charges, at least in part due to the closure of public facilities. Revenues from penalties or interests on taxes were lower than expected, because, like many other municipalities, North Grenville offered interest relief due to COVID.
Deschamps said “what we can see is our revenues from operations are 3 million dollars on the year. So, higher than budget, mostly due to the Safe Restart monies that we received, and also the decrease in some of the expenses.” This kind of surplus from operations is a great thing for us to see. Overall, the annual surplus totalled at 6.3 million dollars.
Deschamps explained, “We do need to raise surpluses so that going forward we can pay down our debt and actually acquire our capital assets.”
This year, North Grenville has gone from “a position of being in net debt to a position of being in a net financial asset of almost a million dollars.” Given the significant obstacles that came with COVID-19, this is quite the achievement. Deschamps said “this is a fantastic thing to see.”
Mayor Peckford noted that “we’re a high growth municipality” and any surpluses will have to be carefully considered in terms of infrastructure needs as we continue to evolve. She said of Council “we’re doing our best” to prepare for upcoming capital needs.
Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times