Details about nearly $1 million of unbudgeted spending at the District of Sechelt will come forward with the annual financial statements, Mayor John Henderson told council at their last meeting of 2012.
Acting chief financial officer Tim Anderson provided a report at the Dec. 19 regular council meeting that talked about four “areas of our operations that are either significantly over budget or unbudgeted.”
Those areas include dealing with geotechnical concerns at Concordia Seawatch, paying for repairs to the Trail Bay waterfront, costs to operate the golf course for a time and the District’s legal fees for issues like Target Marine Hatcheries and the golf course takeover.
Anderson’s report showed that “by year end the total over-expenditures in these areas will be approximately $960,000.”
Coun. Mike Shanks questioned the total and its breakdown, noting more expenditures may need to be added to the nearly $1 million figure.
After being reassured the legal fees included were representative of what has been spent over and above the $350,000 already budgeted, Shanks asked if the $160,000 council spent on interim staff and $625,000 expenditure to pave Mason/Heritage/Sandpiper roads was represented in the numbers.
Henderson said no, noting the expense for interim employees and the head-hunters used to find them was “not necessarily an unusual item.”
“I would say it’s exceptionally irregular to have that cost over and above what a normal cost would be for those positions, because these are people in acting positions while we’re in the process of recruiting,” Shanks said.
Taking that into consideration, Coun. Alice Lutes asked if a larger shortfall would need to be accounted for.
“There’s savings in some areas because, in fact, we are not paying for full-time people when they’re not employed so there will be some savings, there’ll be some additions,” Henderson said. “So yes, there will be a whole myriad, and I think that’s part of the challenge that staff has been addressing in the last two weeks is trying to get that together. So yes, it will all be part of the process … during the preparation of our 2012 financial statements it will be there. It’s all good.”
In a follow-up interview with Coast Reporter Jan. 2,
Henderson said there is more than $6 million of unrestricted surplus that can be used to make up the shortfall, and that money could be pulled from other areas.
“It’s all in our financials from years gone by that I think there was $250,000 in case the sewer plant had a failure, like needed a lot of maintenance quickly, and $900,000 for policing. Well, we have no reason in the world to ever need $900,000 to pay for policing costs because we budget for those every year anyway,” Henderson said.
“Bottom line: we have a little more than $6 million which is available to be used for any purpose that council decides and we would normally want to keep a fairly significant portion of that, I would suggest, just for a rainy day.”
He added the $960,000 of unbudgeted expenditures by council were “necessary” and in reaction to issues that “had to be dealt with.”
Henderson expects the audited financial statements for 2012 to be released to the public by the end of March.