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Woolwich’s $430K surplus to fund reserves

Ending 2013 with a surplus, Woolwich will funnel most of the $430,000 into its reserve funds.

Reporting to councillors Tuesday night, director of finance Richard Petherick said unexpected revenues covered off a huge shortfall in the snow-clearing budget, the result of some heavy winter conditions in 2013. That in turn allowed for a surplus at year’s end.

Of the $430,000 surplus, about $223,000 came from the operating budget, while $207,000 was left over from the capital side. The latter represents scheduled work such as road repairs that wasn’t done in 2013, with the money and projects carried over for this year.

Coun. Mark Bauman argued whether carrying over unspent capital dollars really amounted to a surplus at all, noting that may be the case only for accounting purposes.

“That skews the numbers for me,” he said of the capital figure, adding the goal is to complete much-needed capital projects.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley noted a new engineering position approved in this year’s budget will provide more staff resources to carry out capital projects – “We’ll be able to get more done.”

Delving deeper into the numbers, Petherick showed the winter control budget ran a deficit of $365,000, with bills topping $1.032 million on a budget of $647,000. That would have gobbled up the operating surplus if not for larger-than-expected supplemental revenues: budgeted at $230,000, the actual amount topped $638,000. More than half of the additional revenue came from taxes associated with the new Waterloo North Hydro building dating back to 2011.

In allocating the surplus funds, Petherick recommended the $223,000 extra on the operating side be placed into the township’s operating contingency reserve to help cover another shortfall in the winter control budget expected this year. Due to the wintry conditions that extended well into April, the township has already exhausted this year’s road-clearing budget.

“If we don’t build up the operating contingency reserve, we will have insufficient funds,” said chief administrative officer David Brenneman of this year’s snow budget, adding the deficit could then roll into the following year. “We could start 2015 without money for the winter control budget.”

Bauman, however, argued that $100,000 should be allotted to the infrastructure reserve fund, which the township has been trying to build up in order to help with a backlog of infrastructure projects.

Other councillors agreed, though they were split on a minor expenditure of $5,000 to cover a grant request from Community Justice Initiatives, which is producing a documentary about the first official instance of restorative justice known as the Elmira case.

Councillors Bonnie Bryant, Julie-Anne Herteis and Allan Poffenroth questioned the use of the money given the deficit in the winter control budget, preferring the money go to the contingency fund. Eventually, councillors supported the surplus allocation, including support for the film, in a 3-1 vote, with Bryant the lone dissenter.

In addition to numbers on the tax-levy side, the township saw a $255,000 surplus in water funds that will go into the water reserve fund, while Woolwich will dip into the applicable reserve fund to cover a $365,000 deficit on the wastewater side.

The water surplus came from lower expenditures on the costs controlled by the township as well as higher demand, said Petherick. The wastewater deficit can be tied to the wet year, which saw large volumes of water leach into the sewage system – what’s known as inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems – and subsequently added to the bill from the Region of Waterloo’s treatment plants.

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