City of Iqaluit in the black, GN says
Levinia Brown: “Given the overall surplus, I do not have a major concern with the deficit in the funds”
The City of Iqaluit’s finances are in the black, according to the Government of Nunavut.
That contradicts claims made by the Iqaluit Homeowners Association, who warned in February that the city is violating territorial law by running a deficit.
The GN’s department of Community and Government Services responded with a review of the city’s finances.
Their conclusion? The city ran up several deficits in its operating funds – such as its water and sewer fund. But add each of these funds up, and the city’s still sitting on a surplus.
“Given the overall surplus, I do not have a major concern with the deficit in the funds, as long as you are taking steps to address it,” wrote Levinia Brown, minister of Community and Government Services, in a letter to the city, received in late March.
Keith Irving, vice president of the Iqaluit Homeowners Association, said he based his criticism on a letter written by the city’s auditor in March last year. That letter warns that deficits in each operating fund could violate the Cities, Towns and Villages Act. Irving said he’s surprised the government hasn’t taken the same position.
“It’s in direct contradiction with the opinion of the city’s auditor,” Irving said of the letter. “We would have been happier if she had taken seriously the recommendations of the auditor, and taken action now.”
Brown’s letter says she will wait for the city’s audited financial statements before commenting further. The city has asked for an extension to file these financial statements, from March 31 to June 30, because of ongoing problems with new accounting software.
Brown also requests the city begin filing quarterly financial statements with the GN. “Those will allow us to be able to turn around approval of audited statements much faster and assist in the annual review of the budget,” she wrote.
The Iqaluit Homeowners Association has accused the city of veering from its five-year capital plan, an agreement struck with the GN to upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure.
Brown wrote she’s “comfortable” with the city’s revisions to the plan, and that “the city has made good progress on capital works.” But she warns time is running out for the city to hold up its side of the agreement.
“Given that we are now in the last two years of the agreement, I do have concerns about the City’s level of contribution, particularly 100 per cent city-funded projects, and the amount of work that remains,” she wrote.
Brown also wrote the city could do more to keep the public informed by providing brief summaries of its budget and expenditures.
Irving with the homeowners association said he remains concerned with the state of the city’s finances.
“If they’ve got ongoing software problems, how do they know their budget is any good?” he asked.