The County’s accounting practices are in tip-top shape, according to an independent audit of expenditures, revenues and assets

On May 26, council approved the 2020 financial audit, completed by KPMG.

The yearly audit found no irregularities in the county’s accounting and reporting practices.

“This is about as clean as it gets,” said KPMG’s Oscar Poloni, who presented the report. The audit process also highlights any problems with how money is spent, received, and transferred by the County

“There’s nothing that we’ve seen that enhances your risk or is cause for concern,” Poloni told councillors.

COVID-19-related grants and expenditures account for some reporting irregularities: health services operating costs increased by $425,000 from 2020. That’s in part due to wage and staffing changes, as well as equipment needed to prepare and handle COVID-19. The operating cost increase is covered by federally administered Safe Restart funding as well as funding from Haliburton Highlands Health Services

The audit reports that salaries and bonuses for County of Haliburton staff increased by $110,000. That’s in part due to increased pandemic pay, as well as a shift towards full-time employees rather than seasonal workers.

KPMG found no issues in the way the County handled pandemic-related procedural changes or grants.

“There’s nothing we’ve seen that would cause concern to County council,” Poloni said.

Capital assets – money spent on roads, vehicles and everything else the County owns – increased by $4.89 million in 2020.

These projects included fixing multiple road surfaces, and bridge repairs at Hawk Lake and Eagle Lake. Four new vehicles, library materials and financial software were also included in 2020’s capital additions

Municipal long-term debt, used to finance capital projects, has increased by $2.88 million primarily due to road refurbishment projects. The County is paying 1.38 per cent interest, which is “fairly low” according to Poloni.

Unspent funds for capital projects accounted for a $3.05 million cash and investment balance at the end of 2020.

According to the KMPG audit, the County’s investments are low risk – with $84,000 in investment returns in 2020.

“What we’ve seen with the County is very consistent with what we’ve seen to be best practice, as far as investing advice.”

County Warden Liz Danielsen said she was happy with the audit’s conclusion.

“It’s always music to a County’s ears when we hear ‘it doesn’t get any better than this’,” Danielsen said.

County council members also directed CAO Mike Rutter to report back on a possible audit of the County’s reserve funds. That would summarize best practices and possibilities for County funds earmarked for specific future projects.

For the full report, visit haliburton.ca/ council

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