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Rankin could be in for rough fiscal ride

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Mar 14/05) - A downward trend in Rankin Inlet's finances could keep going if the municipality doesn't tighten its financial belt quickly.

Coun. Ron Roach, a finance committee member, put forth a worse-case scenario during a recent meeting of hamlet council when he delivered his municipal budget update covering up to Dec. 31 of the 2004-05 fiscal year.

The hamlet started the year with a $382,000 surplus, but has seen a swing of about $673,000 since then.

Roach reported a deficit of about $291,000, which includes the purchase of the SAO's house, grader repairs and $25,000 for a boiler at the air-terminal building.

Roach says artificial ice has pushed the arena's power bill to $80,000, while the budget is set at $41,000.

An additional $15,000 was spent on having a technician come up from Winnipeg to start the plant at the beginning of the year.

The hamlet is also suffering from having $207,000 outstanding in land leases.

Roach says if council would have approved a bylaw to impose interest rates on the land leases when the issue was first raised, the monies owing would not be this high.

Although there has been a huge improvement with debt collection, the hamlet is also owed more than $80,000 in municipal-service fees.

Roach is projecting a total deficit of about $300,000 by March 31.

Roach says municipal layoffs will only come as a last resort in an effort to bring the budget under control.

He says the hamlet has to start focusing on capital projects and target items within its means to obtain.

"I'd like to see each department provide a priority list of what it needs to run effectively.

"For example, everyone knows we're in bad need of a new Zamboni.

"It's fine to talk about major projects such as a new arena/community-centre complex, but we need to be more focused on what we can realistically obtain to operate within our budgets."