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City of Estevan's debt levels continued to decline in 2023

Audited financial statements were received at Monday's meeting.
Estevan city hall summer
Estevan city hall

ESTEVAN - The City of Estevan's long-term and net debt continued to decrease in 2023, according to audited financial statements released during Monday night's meeting of Estevan city council.

The document, prepared by the Vitrus Group and released at Monday night's meeting of Estevan city council, shows Estevan's long-term debt was at $12.23 million at the end of 2023, compared with $13.54 million at the end of 2022.

Net debt, which is the figure the city has emphasized for years, was a little more than $8.6 million at the end of last year, compared with more than $11.96 million at the end of the previous year.

Net debt is the excess of total liabilities over revenues. Long-term debt accounts for the majority of the city's liabilities, which were more than $21.64 million at the end of 2023. The city's assets were $13.04 million.

The biggest share of the city's assets was $5.36 million in cash and temporary investments. Taxes receivable were $1.64 million, and other accounts receivable were $1.93 million.

Total revenues stood at slightly more than $36 million. Tax revenue was $20.79 million, while fees and charges were at $12.8 million.

Expenses were at $35.1 million. General government costs ($9.03 million) accounted for the largest share, followed by recreation and cultural services ($7.6 million), protective services ($6.95 million), utility services ($5.46 million) and transportation services ($4..87 million).

The city finished with a surplus of revenues over expenses of $960,941.

Neal Fense with the Vitrus Group appeared before council to speak to members and answer questions. He said there was nothing significant that affected the firm's approval of the financial statements.

The only error they found was some rate fees recognized for 2022 should have been listed for 2023. It was discussed with management, the issue has already been addressed, and new processes have been put in place to keep it from happening again.

Coun. Tony Sernick noted some significant variances in revenues and expenses from 2022 to 2023, and wanted to know why. The city had a surplus of nearly $5.73 million two years ago. 

Fense responded the city received a lot of money through the Canadian Community Building Fund. There was a large surplus that had built up, and so a lot of big projects were completed in 2022.

"Because those projects end up going into the capital assets, and get recognized over time through amortization, that's why we see that one-year blip."

Other variances were fairly expected and related to different grants and programs that were one-time things, Fense said.