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KPMG responsible for delay in audited statements, Pemberton says

Preliminary financial statements show a $1 million surplus, months after taxes were raised

The Village of Pemberton was forced to go before its annual general meeting Tuesday night without disclosing its finances, a requirement under B.C.'s Community Charter.

The reason was that accountants with the Kelowna office of KPMG, a major international accounting firm, did not finish auditing the statements by the provincially-mandated June 30 deadline.

KPMG is adjusting to a new accounting system.

Pemberton thus disclosed what it called "very preliminary" financial statements that show the village posting a surplus, just three months after council voted to raise property taxes by three per cent.

"Unfortunately our auditors really did drop the ball here," Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy told the meeting Tuesday night. "They should have given us audited financial statements two or three weeks ago. That has not happened. It's an issue around the conversion to the public sector accounting. There's a change in how things are reported out."

Sturdy went on to say that was "not an excuse" and that it's "unacceptable" from the village's perspective because it has a statutory requirement to report back to the province on its financial position and it is not able to do that. The AGM was thus recessed until the July 20 council meeting.

Pemberton first dealt with the Consolidated Statement of Financial Position at a special council meeting on June 24. The statement shows an annual surplus of $958,804, meaning the village took in more money from taxpayers and ratepayers than it spent.

Village Administrator Daniel Sailland said at that meeting that KPMG explained none of their clients received their statements. The delay was because KPMG was adjusting to the new accounting method.

However other communities in Sea to Sky that used different firms experienced no issues obtaining their audited financial statements. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, for example, got audited financial statements from BDO Dunwoody at its June 28 board meeting and reported that they had no issues obtaining them.

"It is true, it is a new method of doing the accounting, so you know, they misjudged how they would have to run through that," Sailland said at the Pemberton council meeting. "But again, it doesn't change reality for us. We're left with no audited statements and all we can say is we don't have them."

The surplus was a source of alarm for Councillors Lisa Ames and Ted Craddock. Ames, for one, said she was happy to have the funds but frustrated that she was finding out about the surplus just months after council voted to raise taxes.

Craddock felt much the same way.

"Why do we accumulate $1 million when we don't have a water park, when we don't have our roads fixed?" he asked. "If I had known three months ago, I would have brought a different recommendation back from the finance committee."

Roger Lundie, the village's interim director of finance, explained that the surplus in its current form would be going into various reserves to pay for infrastructure.

That includes $125,000 towards a water park; $150,000 for an upgrade of a sewer line running along Portage Road; and $67,000 to go towards a fire rescue truck.

KPMG did not respond to a request for comment.