Nova Scotia

Baddeck unable to meet minister's deadline to produce audited financials

Officials with the Village of Baddeck say accountants need more time to complete audited financial statements that are missing from 2 previous years.

Village officials say accountants need more time to complete missing audited financial statements

A sign welcomes visitors to Baddeck, N.S. Officials with the village commission say they will not be able to complete all of the directives in an order from Nova Scotia Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Officials with the Village of Baddeck say they will not be able to meet the deadline to file missing audited financial statements imposed by Nova Scotia's municipal affairs minister.

The village commission has been under a ministerial order issued in December to get its financial and governance affairs straightened out by May 1.

Maris Freimanis, the village's interim chief administrative officer, said this year's revenues and expenses are on track, but accountants are telling him audited financial statements for the two previous years cannot be done on time.

"There are very, very many challenges with those two fiscal years and they won't be able to be completed by May 1st," he said.

Little or no data has been entered into the village's computer system from those two years, Freimanis said.

In addition, the last financial statement was prepared on obsolete software and the village's former accounting firm needs time to convert the files, he said.

Interim CAO Maris Freimanis says even though the village can't fulfil the order on time, electors need governance options and other financial information. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

In its latest progress report to Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr, the village asked for a deadline extension, but that has been denied.

"The minister has made it very clear to us that there will be no extension," said commission chairperson Bill Marchant.

"If we don't provide him with the information he wants or has asked for or has demanded by May 1st, then he will take whatever action he thinks is appropriate."

Under the ministerial order, the village has to produce audited financial statements for the last two years, draft a budget and make a plan to collect tax and utility bills for this year.

It also has to provide the residents with governance options, and it all has to be done by May 1.

Freimanis said the commission is forging ahead as best it can.

"Although the village is not able to meet all of the requirements of the May 1st deadline, the electors need to be informed and advised of what the options are, what the costs are and what the current financial state of the village is," he said.

The village's future has been in doubt for years, but its troubles came to a head last fall when the commission fired its chief administrative officer.

Bill Marchant, chairperson of the Village of Baddeck commission, says the commission will come up with governance options, and it will be up to the community to decide how to proceed. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The commission then voted to dissolve and join with Victoria County, but residents shot that plan down at a public meeting in December.

Marchant said the commission is still gathering information on whether it is better to remain a village, join Victoria County or share services with another municipality.

"We're going to be able to come up with governance options," he said. "Whether the community will accept those or not, that's the question."

Officials say an update will be mailed to residents in the next couple of weeks and a community meeting is tentatively planned for April.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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