Funding fiasco averted … for now

It was almost a tight fiscal year for Yukon municipalities. Saturday, the municipalities learned they wouldn't be strong-armed into a quarterly funding scheme by the territory.

It was almost a tight fiscal year for Yukon municipalities.

Saturday, the municipalities learned they wouldn’t be strong-armed into a quarterly funding scheme by the territory.

Yukon communities were handed an exemption for 2010. But future municipal funding is still up in the air.

In February, the communities learned their comprehensive municipal grant would no longer be delivered in one lump sum. Instead, they would get their cash doled out in four separate payments.

It was an announcement that came too quickly for some smaller Yukon municipalities.

They need more money in April to pay for capital projects that can only be built during summer months, said Watson Lake Mayor Richard Durocher.

“The reality is that we couldn’t afford it,” he said. “We need all our funding April 1st.”

If Watson Lake were to receive quarterly payments from the territory, it would have to dip into its reserves or cancel potential projects, he said.

“It would have put the brake on things we need to do as a municipality.”

It’s a similar situation for Dawson. There, the town needs at least 70 per cent of its funding in April to stay afloat, said Councillor Wayne Potoroka.

There’s also the issue of interest.

If money is sitting in territorial banks rather than municipal coffers, who is benefitting? asked Haines Junction Mayor George Nassiopoulos.

“We’ve made as much as $70,000 in the past (from interest),” he said.

“That’s a significant hit for a small community considering that makes up about six or seven per cent of our yearly revenue.”

The situation isn’t as dire for Haines Junction as it is for other communities, said Nassiopoulos.

The town would still be economically viable if they got quarterly installments of the municipal grant.

The same goes for Mayo, said Mayor Scott Bolton.

But one thing the municipalities agree upon is that the reasoning behind the quarterly funding decision was pretty thin.

“The (funding) changes weren’t well communicated by the Community Services Department, even though we have a great relationship with them,” said Potoroka.

“They seem equally baffled as we are by all this.”

Bolton said he’s still “trying to figure out why they’re doing this.”

And Durocher found the reasoning “kind of odd” and questioned why his community was “having to suffer the wrath of this.”

Community Services learned about the policy from the Finance Department in February 2009, but officials were never given any reasons for the proposed changes.

“It’s a way of accounting and controlling for expenditures of municipalities,” said director of community affairs Christine Smith.

“But as for the reasoning, I honestly don’t know. We’re also looking for those answers.”

The directive came from Canada’s auditor general and an internal audit in 2007, said David Hrycan, deputy minister of Finance.

It applies not only to municipalities, but to all nonprofits and organizations that receive yearly government funding.

“It’s just not good business to give money in advance of need,” he said, using a mortgage analogy to explain the situation.

“If you needed $300,000 for a home, you wouldn’t get all the funding on day one.”

But municipalities wanted to be a part of the discussion when the policy was being worked out in 2008.

“When the policy was contemplated they didn’t take time to consult with us,” said Potoroka.

“At the (Association of Yukon Communities) AGM (in April) we’ll have an opportunity to talk to the finance people.”

The issue came up at a breakfast meeting Tuesday to unveil the territorial budget to the business community.

Community Services Minister Archie Lang is working on the issue, said Premier Fentie in response to a question from city councillor Doug Graham.

The association has already drafted up a resolution calling on the government to return back to yearly lump payments, rather than quarterly installments.

That resolution will be talked about at the upcoming AGM.

“The message has been loud and clear that this is unacceptable,” said Durocher.

“I feel confidant the issue will be dealt with.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read