The Town of Crossfield has released its audited financial statements for 2021 and according to both council members and administration, concerns have arisen that will need to be addressed for the next fiscal year.
Mayor Kim Harris said Town council and the municipality’s administration team have worked hard to adopt an audited budget on time and in accordance with regulations, as they required an extension in doing so last year.
She said the audit produced some concerns with both reconciliation and journal entries.
“These concerns are currently being addressed and will be streamlined for future budgets,” Harris said. “It is very important to council that the budget is clear, transparent and fiscally responsible while still meeting the needs of the community.”
Council members accepted the 2021 audited financial statements prepared by the Town’s administration team during a regular meeting on May 3.
Sue Keenan, chief administrative officer for the Town, explained as a requirement under law, all municipalities in Alberta must file an audited financial statement before the end of May each year.
“Last year we didn’t make that timeline – we got to ask for an extension because of everything that was going on in the community,” Keenan said. “But this year, we did get our filing done in time and complete.”
According to Keenan, the independent auditors provide the Town with a management letter indicating areas that need improvement, with several areas identified in the report, including reconciliation of accounts and journal entries.
She said other items need cleaning up too, including accounting, which will need to clearly define restricted reserves versus operational funds in the future.
“We’re making an effort to get that changed immediately,” Keenan said. “Any time you’re involving taxpayers' money, it’s incumbent on administration and the council of the day to ensure full transparency.”
She said transparency is achieved by presenting the audit at a public council meeting, as well as posting those financial statements online for those interested in knowing where their tax dollars are being spent.
“We definitely want to see some areas [of administration] cleaned up, there’s no question about that,” Keenan said.
She added that grant funding to the municipality will not be “as rich” as it has been in the past couple of years, so the Town will have to tighten its belt in some areas in order to conserve funds.
Keenan said she hopes in future budget cycles to have a clean and audited financial statement, with “very clearly delineated accounting mechanisms in place.”
“Whether it’s restricted reserves and or unrestricted funds that really clearly outlines what we’re spending taxpayer dollars on,” she said.
She added moving forward, she is looking forward to the growth of Crossfield and what that will mean for residents.
“We look forward to continuing to provide [residents] with very clear and concise information,” Keenan said.
Copies of the audited financial statements are available on the Town of Crossfield website at crossfieldalberta.com or, alternatively, by visiting the Town Office at 1005 Ross Street during regular business hours.