Cultus steps back from the brink

Cultus Lake Park Board is bouncing back from the brink of insolvency.

Cultus Lake Park Board is bouncing back from the brink of insolvency.

But it is looking at putting a stop to producing monthly financial statements in an effort to cut costs.

Park board commissioners voted to send the matter back to staff before deciding on the issue.

Cultus Lake Park leaseholder Rick Williamson, a retired accountant is unconvinced that an end to the monthly statements is a good move. He wrote the park board a lengthy letter mapping out his concerns.

“How can you possibly manage the affairs of the Park on a month-to-month basis if you have no idea what the current state of Park finances are? You will be running blind,” he wrote.

According to the 2009 audited statements, CLPB lost $321,000 in 2009.

Former Chair Brian Nokleby acknowledged in his year-end letter that the Park Board administration had experienced a number of challenges relating to both “accounting and cash handling” procedures.

That still concerns some leaseholders.

“Common sense dictates that any organization that is in such a precarious financial position should increase scrutiny of its finances – not eliminate this scrutiny entirely,” Williamson commented in the letter.

Park Board chair Sacha Peter countered that there was nothing in place requiring the board to report financially to the public on a monthly basis, and it was too expensive to maintain the practice of providing “financial snapshots” at park board meetings.

“In no way do I agree with the assertion that it will impair our ability to make budgetary decisions. It’s not as if we won’t receive information,” he said.

The other concern was “a deluge” of Freedom of Information requests being filed in an effort to track the Park Board’s finances.

“From the beginning of our term to today, there’s been a lot of turnover of financial staff. But (finance staff) are doing an incredible job of cleaning up and we’re working toward the next phase to optimize our revenues and cost savings.”

The Community Charter only requires yearly audited financial statements, he said, and the 2009 audit cost $22,000.

But Williamson said regular monthly statements had been prepared in a timely fashion for years up to early 2009.

“What has changed since early 2009 that now make preparation so time consuming when it obviously was not an issue prior to 2009?” he asked.

The 2009 situation necessitated the implementation of a “proactive cash flow management” strategy, said Peter.

Beginning in 2010, financial mechanisms to do with cash handling, revenue recognition and spending were beefed up, procedures were reviewed and made more efficient, he said.

“The commitment by the Cultus Lake Park Board, and their management team, to provide for the long term financial health of the community was evident in the 2010 fiscal year end results,” said Peter.

Revenues were up 11 per cent last year, while cost went down by 11 per cent.

The 2009 deficit became a surplus of $447,105 in 2010, constituting a net change of $768,322. Park board reserves went from $22,079 in 2009 to $612,862 in 2010.

“The Board is confident that we are on the right path toward long term financial sustainability,” said Peter. “We have made significant progress in laying a foundation for financial responsibility in the park and this will be to the benefit of our residents, businesses and visitors.”

An early version of this story stated the Park Board had already voted on the issue of monthly financial statements. This one is updated with the correct information.