The city should have about half of its long-awaited gas tax money by the end of the year, says the city treasurer, provided there aren’t any more problems.
The city’s overdue 2010 and 2011 audited financial statements should be forwarded to the city auditor soon. If the auditor doesn’t encounter problems, then they’ll be submitted to the province shortly after.
The 2010 statements would be sent to the province first and the province, in turn, would then release half of the $2.65 million it’s withholding due to the city’s tardiness at submitting its statements.
"We’d have it submitted to the province well before year end and then hopefully our funds would come shortly after that," says city treasurer Dean Hammond. "Hopefully by the end of the year, that money will be showing up."
There’s still no timeline, however, for when the city would receive the second half of the gas tax funds, being held due to the late 2011 statements.
City hall and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst recently became the targets of sharp criticism because the province is withholding $2.65 million in gas tax revenue. That’s a response to the city’s failure to submit its 2010 and 2011 audited financial statements to the Department of Local Government.
The province has confirmed that the city will receive the money without penalty once the statements are filed.
Brandon was one of 45 municipalities to have gas tax rebates withheld by the province for failing to submit required statements. New provincial accounting standards, changes to city treasury staff, a switch to new accounting software and the flood of 2011 were cited as reasons for the delay.
Decter Hirst has previously said the city’s focus was on the time-sensitive task of applying for disaster financial assistance for the flood, rather than gas tax cash.
In delivering an update on Wednesday, Hammond said four city staff members, led by director of finance Val Rochelle, are now working on both the 2010 and 2011 statements.
"She’s working crazy hours," Hammond said of Rochelle. "My other staff are too, they’re putting in their own time to get this done."
Hammond confirmed that, as previously reported, the city’s 2010 financial statements should be sent to its auditor, BDO Dunwoody, for review by Sept. 30. The 2011 paperwork should follow shortly after — an estimated four to six weeks later.
The statements will then be forwarded to the province.
Provided BDO Dunwoody doesn’t run into problems, Hammond said the 2010 statements should be with the province far in advance of year end. Half of the withheld gas tax funds, $1.3 million, would finally flow to the city shortly after that.
Hopefully, he said, that first half of cash will arrive by the end of the year.
The 2011 statements should be in the hands of the province shortly after those from 2010. So, it’s hoped that the second $1.3-million payment would arrive here shortly after the first, although there’s no firm timeline for that.
The gas tax money is to be used by the city for infrastructure projects, such as streets, and for some transit funding.
Hammond confirmed that the city is losing a "minimal" amount of interest because the withheld gas tax funds haven’t been sitting in city accounts.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2012