Kitimat strike meant missed deadline for budget submissions

The provincial government's deadline for a municipality's budget was missed by Kitimat due to the disruption by the strike.

The provincial May 15 deadline to have all of a municipality’s budget information audited and submitted was missed by the District of Kitimat due to the skeleton crew working in the financial department during the municipal strike.

While the province does have some routine consequences for towns that do so, Kitimat won’t be in any notable trouble for overshoot. It also helped that the ministry responsible, Community, Sport and Cultural Development, was kept informed about Kitimat’s struggles.

Council was informed about the situation through a letter from Sean Grant, the Director for Local Government Finance.

The letter indicates that the 2014 audited financial statements and the 2014 local government data entry forms had not been submitted.

District Treasurer Steve Christiansen noted it’s not the first time the District of Kitimat has been late submitting their documents. The town, he said, had previously worked on a timetable which always had them overshooting the deadline, but the town’s new budget schedule allows them to better meet the goals.

He said that were it not for the strike he has all confidence that everything would have been submitted in time for the deadline.

“This year, due to my deputy being in labour negotiations for three months and then through the strike action for another three months…basically it took him out of the picture for six months,” said Christiansen.

In addition he did not have his usual staff to do budget reconciliations.

The ministry has set a new target date of August 7 for the documents but it will be the fall before anything actually arrives to them.

After reconciliation in August, the District will have to conduct an audit on the numbers, which won’t produce the required documents until October, said Christiansen.

“That’s not what the ministry wants but that’s the best we can do.”

Other ways Christiansen has improved the budget timetable — not inclusive of this year due to the extenuating circumstances — is the delegate more work to the deputy treasurer.

“What I did…was push some of the work on to the deputy treasurer which I don’t think was done before that. But that couldn’t be done this year,” he said, adding that even now he’s in the position of not having a deputy treasurer at all.

The former deputy treasurer Lyle McNish, it was recently announced, had accepted a job in Prince Rupert. A replacement has not been announced.