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Hinton council discuss financial statements at regular meeting on May 19

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

During the May 19 regular council meeting, council met again via a zoom call to pass motions regarding the conclusion of HYAC, the land use bylaw amendment and schedule a public hearing, appoint committee members, and discuss financial statements and capital projects.

Financial Statements and Capital Projects

2019 Fourth Quarter financial results were presented to council at the May 19 council meeting.

The delay in the financial statement presentation process was caused by a late 2020 budget process, turnover, the COVID pandemic, as well as the 2019 Audit that commenced in March. 

Due to changes in leadership, a lengthy budget process, and shifting priorities, administration was challenged to bring forward financial results every quarter, said CAO Emily Olsen.

The effect of finalizing the current budget in March meant that work expected to be completed through this time was pushed back by at least three months. 

The unaudited deficiency for 2019 is $90,947, which is a direct result of staffing payouts that were carried out upon direction from Council.

Administration’s report stated removing these amounts results in a year with positive financial results, despite the unpredictable events and turn over challenges that took place.

Coun. Dewly Nelson pointed out that emergency expenditures included an amount that was not budgeted for and questioned how council should monitor this appropriately.

Carla Fox, director of corporate services, stated that administration was given approval to utilize the one-time project account and report what was spent in the quarterly financial statements.

Todd Martens said the emergency expenditure was a pump that could not be repaired.

A motion was defeated by council that would direct administration to bring forward a financial reporting policy where each quarter is reported no later than six weeks after the completion of that quarter to a standing committee meeting no later than Sept. 30, 2020.

Nelson said consistent financial reporting is one tool council has, since council doesn’t have access to real-time financial information, to impact future quarters. 

“It’s very challenging to get the reporting so far behind, we can’t really impact anything or any changes moving forward,” Nelson said.

Instead, council approved a motion to direct administration to bring a draft fiscal management policy to a standing committee meeting before Dec. 31, 2020.

Emdad Haque, director of infrastructure services, said instead of having just one policy in regards to financial reporting, the reporting aspect could be part of an overall fiscal management policy.

“Instead of just adding the reporting portion, if we can get some flexibility to work on the fiscal management policy and bring it forward to council. I think that will be better instead of having many different policies,” Haque said.

Land Use Bylaw Amendment

The Land Use Bylaw (LUB) is updated on a regular basis by Town administration to keep it current with best practices and to respond to the immediate community and municipality.

The LUB did not allow for the delegation of powers and duties related to subdivision or development authority by the development services director on behalf of the municipality, CAO Emily Olsen said.

The changes approved by council, allows this delegation and provides consistent customer services from development services.

Council also scheduled a public hearing on June 16 in the Government Centre and/or online to hear public comments on Bylaw Amendment 1088-14.

CAO Olsen said the public hearing is able to be conducted online as well as in person, even though the government centre is still closed to the public.

Olsen added that administration is looking at a reopening strategy that may allow for a minimal number of people to be present if they want to speak.

An order in council allows council to conduct council meetings and public hearings electronically and a number of municipalities in the province have been doing this already, said Peter Vana, director of development services. 

HYAC term comes to an end

HYAC meetings and activities officially concluded for the 2019-2020 term and full bursary payments will be awarded to the 2019-2020 HYAC youth members.

“Thank you to all of our fine youth who were involved in participating in HYAC but also to the staff who volunteered made it what it was and of course to our fellow councillors who served on that as well. What a great introductory year, except of course this ending that we’re faced with. It’s unfortunate, but we did have a great start and I’m looking forward to what can happen in the subsequent season,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

The $500 bursary payments will be awarded if additional requirements are met, including enrolment in a post-secondary institution and claiming the funds within two years of graduation.

Only two HYAC members are scheduled to graduate in 2020, which means the maximum cost impact to the 2020 HYAC Bursary Fund would be $1,000.

Eight students were appointed to HYAC who met monthly from October to February, to hear guest speakers, set goals, and devise work plans. 

HYAC was unable to meet since February due to Town facilities closing to the public on March 13 and the elimination of all public meetings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

HYAC members agreed that cancelling the meetings would be preferable due to the challenges and setbacks of the pandemic.

Council appoints committee liaisons

Council appointed Coun. Tyler Waugh to the Hinton Police/Town liaison committee and removed him from the West Yellowhead Regional Waste Management Authority committee.

Coun. Trevor Haas was appointed to the West Yellowhead Regional Waste Management Authority committee and was removed from the Hinton police town liaison committee. 

CAO Emily Olsen introduced Municipal Intern Mir Faiaz at the end of the meeting. Faiaz’s new position is funded through a grant to bring an intern in for a one year term in a municipal environment.