Budget Woes
Rankin working on $100,000 deficit

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Oct 27/99) - Action is under way to address the hamlet of Rankin Inlet's deficit and bring its finances under control, says the regional superintendent for the department of community government.

Shawn Maley says the hamlet is running a deficit of more than $100,000.

"We're not sure of the exact amount yet," says Maley.

"We just received figures for the end of June, but some of the deficit is carried over from last year."

Present numbers show the hamlet's revenues at $1.585 million and its expenses at $1.685 million.

Maley has addressed council about the situation, expressing concern that the hamlet has fallen behind with its financial reporting.

He says his department is very proactive in the Kivalliq Region and he encouraged council to remit its financial statements for review as quickly as possible.

"Council went out and got the firm of KR Manson right away to give it a hand and they're working on it now.

"They have produced documentation until the end of June and are working on July and August, which is where they should be."

Maley says his department treats Rankin cautiously because it's the first non tax-based community in Nunavut to go into a debenture.

"The hamlet has a $2-million loan guaranteed by the government, so we want to make sure things are ticking along the way legislation requires them to.

"The GNWT secured the loan, a liability, I'm assuming, which would have been passed along to Nunavut."

Maley says it's in his department's best interest to make sure the hamlet stays viable and healthy because of the secured bank loan.

He cautions that every Nunavut community has its financial peaks and valleys.

"I wouldn't classify the situation as bad, per say.

"The hamlet needs to clean up where it's at and get more proactive in making sure invoices get out and bills are paid on time.

"Since the hamlet's finance officer, Justin Merritt, left, we just haven't seen that.

"When he left, they had a hard time filling that void."

If the financial situation were to get out of control, Maley's department has the power to put an administrator in place and dissolve hamlet council.

The hamlet would then be without its own council until it was back in a financially viable situation.

Once viable, another council would be appointed or a new election called. "That would be the minister's call, as it is anywhere there's a problem," says Maley.

"But, I want to make it perfectly clear, we're not anywhere near that point.

"We're happy with the progress since our last meeting and hope it continues."

Maley says the hamlet is doing well in the land development fund behind its loan.

He says council still has the ability to balance its budget by the end of the fiscal year with a lot of hard work.

Maley also says to the best of his knowledge, there's no truth to the rumour positions are being slashed in the hamlet to reduce the deficit.

"The hamlet submitted its budget in February, but, obviously, things have changed and it has to be redone. So, we'll see what happens at that time.

"I don't know when we'll get the new budget because of the SAO's impending departure."

(SAO Robert Janes will be leaving the hamlet this week.)