Staff projects operations budget over-spending

MAPLETON – Based on current calculations, officials here are projecting the township will overspend the 2019 operations budget by $123,891 by year’s end.

The operations budget has been significantly impacted by legal fees associated with the township’s water and wastewater project and winter maintenance program, finance director John Morrison told council on Nov. 12.

“I have assumed what I thought was a worst case scenario based on the … first six months of the year, and then I’ve been projecting some of the summer trends so I hope I have a realistic number for you,” said Morrison.

According to his report, council has spent $194,054 to date on legal expenses associated with its water and wastewater renewal project.

In April, council announced its plan to invite companies with applicable experience to invest in and propose solutions for, the township’s water and wastewater systems renewal.

It is currently still in the RFP process.

“The forecast assumed that by year-end the legal bill may be as high as $250,000,” states the report. “Should the RFP be awarded it is assumed that the successful proponent would reimburse the township for its legal expenses.”

“If the successful proponent reimburses the township for those set legal costs, will that simply get added as an income say on next year’s budget?” asked councillor Michael Martin.

Morrison replied, “Should there be a successful proponent they would probably have a receivable and then offset that expense. Otherwise, it would be a loss of this year, we won’t know before closing the books.”

Staff  have also assumed a deficit by year-end of $134,000 for winter maintenance.

“Winter maintenance is already over budget this year and that’s because winter never ended last year and now it’s started early. So is that going to be a problem?” asked councillor Marlene Ottens.

“It could well be a potential problem,” Morrison said.

However, other programs and operations not exceeding the budget are helping to moderate this budget pressure.

“So we’re taking the learnings from this and putting it into our budget for 2020 and upping the numbers,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson.

“Seems like we might have to do that; it seems like we are going down that road using a little bit more materials,” he added.

Variant items

Environment services is forecasted to be in a deficit position of $57,982.

Salaries and benefits are also over budget, primarily due to an added $94,000 needed for winter maintenance.

Conversely, planning and development services is trending as a significant savings this year for municipal drainage maintenance and upkeep; approximately $100,000.