Photo by Blackburn London

City Looking At $4.7M Surplus

It’s a good problem to have.

City councillors will have to decide what to do with an extra $4.7-million, now that a report going to a committee meeting next week has detailed a projected seven-figure surplus. The Corporate Service Committee will be presented with a report at its meeting on Tuesday that outlines how the surplus was achieved.

The report cites several reasons, including $3.1-million in personnel savings that were largely the results of the 59-day strike by the city’s inside workers. There were also $600,000 in fuel savings, and $3.3-million in supplementary tax revenue resulting from property assessments conducted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

Councillors have a number of options as to what to do with the extra money. It could be used to pay down the city’s debt, to reduce future tax increases, or spent on infranstructure.

But those decisions won’t be made until after a revised policy on dealing with surpluses is passed by council. A draft of that revised policy will be presented to the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee on December 7.

Councillor Josh Morgan, who was recently tapped to be Mayor Matt Brown’s special advisor on the budget, says he has his own ideas on what he would like to see in the revised policy, but it will be up to council as a whole.

“When surpluses some out at the other end of the budget cycle they are one-time money,” says Morgan. “You can start saving for large projects. Moving into the multi-year budget process there are a number of priorities that council has that will cost money and so that’s always an option….to have the ability to forward funds into savings accounts for larger projects.”

Morgan says putting money into the operating budget contingency reserve is also something council could consider, so in the event of a deficit at the end of a fiscal year, council wouldn’t have to go back to taxpayers asking for an interim tax increase.