Marshall reports town finances remain positive and stable

In a recent report to council, director of finance Sharon Marshall stated the second quarter report examined “actual” revenues and expenditures incurred up to June 30, relative to the approved 2014 budget estimates.

As she presented highlights of the report Marshall stated “It is important to realize that ‘projections’ for estimates to year-end can only be very preliminary at this early point in our fiscal year.”

The report indicated that the cost of general government and council is about 44 per cent of the 2014 budget.

“With the reduced number of special meetings expected during the “lame duck” period upcoming in the remaining term, it is expected that costs will remain as budgeted or even slightly less.”

Under administration, Marshall commented that costs were roughly 47% of budget, or slightly less than 50% at the half-year mark.

However, she suggested that with the additional workload for the clerk’s department related to the municipal election, it is expected that wages will end in-line with the budget.

Marshall noted, “legal costs continue to be substantial, and are already in excess of the 2014 budget estimate by $8,280. It is anticipated that legal costs will continue to grow to deal with ongoing issues such as: HR, the Madison Lake storm water pond, and defence of suits.”

Though building permit revenues are $18,800 less than the same period in 2013, and slightly under 2014 estimates, or 39% of year-to-date, Marshall stated a late, cold spring may have impacted new construction ‘starts’, and it is hoped that permit fees will increase with the nicer summer weather.

In the area of fire and emergency services, Marshall noted burn permit revenue stood at 92%, or $22,088, of budget for 2014.

She qualified the number stating that normally the majority of burn permits are sold for use in the spring and summer months.

Ice storm impact

Marshall noted that wage and benefits costs are substantially higher than the first half of 2013, and already at 60% of the total 2014 budget.

She attributed some of this as part of the response and cleanup of last December’s ice storm.

“To June 30, those unusual costs account for approximately $86,000 of the variance from wage and benefit budget. The storm ‘event’ cleanup also impacts the ‘purchased services’ expenditure by adding $85,128 to that line for contracted brushing and chipping equipment. An application was made for storm cost recovery in the amount of

$478,577 under the Ontario Ice Storm Assistance Program on June 16.”

She added that a grant for all, or some, of these substantial clean-up costs is anticipated.

Overall, Marshall reported the net recreation costs are 60.3% of the total 2014 budget to June 30.

In 2013 the net expenditures to June 30 were 62.5% of the total. As the majority of recreation expenses and revenues are generated by the Hillsburgh Community Centre/Arena and Erin Community Centre/Arena, approximately 60% of “used” budget after the spring ice-season falls well within the expected target.

The revenues collected for the first half of the year in both arenas are slightly below estimates compared to the average year to mid-season.

But, she added. it was anticipated that the revenues for all recreation will increase by year-end as the 3-4% rate increases take effect in September. Overall, Marshall stated, “I am pleased to report that the town’s financial position remains positive and stable. Any significant variances from budget have been identified and authorized.”