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Financial report receives "five stars" from New West city council

Capital budget adjusted to reflect $6 million increase to Massey Theatre renovation
Quarterly report: A 2023 Q1 report to council provided updates on the city’s finances, including funding that’s been spend on the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre and Massey Theatre projects. photo The Record

A financial report is getting “five stars” from New Westminster city council.

At Monday’s meeting, council received a 2023 capital and operating quarterly performance report. It included updates to council on the operating and capital budget and major project/program spending.

“It was very thorough and really gave a fantastic snapshot. And really, to me, it was the gold standard in terms of openness And transparency for a municipal government, like the way it was laid out, the way … the information was gathered,” said Coun. Daniel Fontaine. “Just five stars. I thought was fantastic.”

Mayor Patrick Johnstone said the reporting is a “bit of a shift” in the way the city reports on its finances.

“It’s a good step forward in how we’re tracking the finances in the city,” he said. “I think it’s really good for public disclosure. It will increase our transparency, and it’s going to assist us around engagement when it comes around to budget time. So I appreciate that.”

The report noted the finance department provides quarterly reports to council and seeks approval for any necessary budget adjustments throughout the year, as a way of maintaining flexibility and transparency.

In addition to receiving the report for information, council also approved the 2023 quarterly capital budget adjustments outlined in the report. That included an adjustment of $6 million and a revised multiyear capital budget of $179.2 million.

According to a staff report, the city’s capital budget was $173.2 million as of May 15, with the city having spent $24.9 million and committed more than $60.4 million to major projects and capital program spending.

“As of May 15, a total of $7.3 million capital budget adjustment is required, of which $1.3-million is fully offset by savings/scope change of other projects in the same year, leaving a net proposed adjustment of $6.0 million for Massey Theatre,” said the report.

The city’s capital budget provides funding for a wide range of projects and programs, including advance metering infrastructure, the Queensborough substation, sewer separation and water main repair programs, greenway construction and Massey Theatre renovation. The largest item is təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre, which was forecasted to have spent $42.8 million as of March 31.

“The project manager along with internal city staff are working through challenges surrounding off-site connections for storm and sanitary lines,” said the report. “TACC team remains committed to tight minoring and mitigation strategies and continue to manage risk via the project’s contingency and to stay within the current approved budget of $114.6 million. Phase 1 completion is on target for March 2024. Phase 2 completion is on target for September 2024.”