The 2018 Draft Financial Statements for the City of Yorkton were presented to the regular meeting of Council Monday, and Council would unanimously support a motion to authorize the Director of Finance to sign the representation letter to the auditors; and further that the final 2018 Financial Statements be created and hereby approved.
The process is frankly a near automatic one in terms of process. A city like Yorkton which has done its job in terms of tackling its finances is going to pass an audit.
Yet the process is an important one in providing the checks and balances which keeps everyone from Council through City Administration to the general public having confidence that the finances are in good shape.
What is more interesting than the overall approval of the audit is some of the details contained in the document.
One of the most interesting details was the amount of major debt being held by the City.
At the meeting of Council Monday Amber Matechuk, City Controller, with the City noted the City’s debt limit is $42,000,000.
That number is one which was established a number of years ago, and had to be approved by the province. It is not a standard amount across all cities in the province, with each municipality determining the level of debt they are comfortable carrying at the maximum and then applying to have that level approved. In that respect it can be raised if a city and the province agree.
The $42 million however is a maximum, and at present Yorkton is well below that in terms of debt.
Currently the City has four major loans;
• Fire Hall $3,918,651
• Gallagher Centre $1,372,620
• Waterworks $4,023,000
• Dracup $5,356,470
The total debt of the loans is $14,670,741.
This leaves the city with approximately $27,300,000 of debt available, as at December 31, 2018, said Matechuk.
That leaves a question for Council in particular, and the community as a whole come the next municipal election, whether Yorkton should look at borrowing more dollars to address some of the municipal infrastructure shortfalls that we see around the city?
There are not many drivers in Yorkton who couldn’t point to a few streets where vehicles rattle and shake as they bounce from pothole to pothole.
The current Council has invested additional dollars in sidewalks and asphalt in recent years, but the deficit in infrastructure is significant. The replacement of existing sidewalks and asphalt will still take decades at current rates.
Is borrowing to take a bigger bite out of upgrade needs the right way to go?
That is a question that the community should at least be discussing given the current strong financial position of the City.