Low levels of debt and a strong equity position have put Wellesley in a good fiscal position, a review of the township’s books reveals.
“I’m pleased to say the audit did go very smoothly again this year. I daresay perhaps the smoothest audit in our time as auditors here,” Mike Ardnt of Graham Mathew Professional Corporations told councillors meeting Tuesday night. “I would say that’s a very strong reflection of the growth and the development of the team of finance professionals that you’ve assembled here.”
Wellesley finance staff prepared financial statements for the auditor, who found the financial situation for 2018 to be similar to that of 2017, Ardnt noted.
One highlight is the outstanding tax receivable amount of $385,962, the lowest in the past five years, council heard, significantly below $617,469 in 2017.
“This is a good reflection of collecting taxes and staying on top of arrears and so forth,” said Ardnt.
The Township of Wellesley owns 6.6 per cent of shares in Waterloo North Hydro, which was noted as a profitable venture. It increased in value by $231,000 last year and has grown by a total of $4.8 million since Wellesley acquired the investment. The holdings provided $275,000 in cash dividends as well as $135,000 in interest earned in 2018.
“So again, it continues to actually put a fairly substantial amount of cash into the township’s coffers,” said Ardnt.
The long-term debt of Wellesley continued to decrease, dropping by $113,000 last year. The auditor predicted that the debt should be repaid, barring unexpected circumstances, within six to seven years.
The annual surplus in the statements was around $53,000, mostly due to lower depreciation on capital assets as well as cost savings in several different departments.
Arndt also credited the township’s ability to keep staffing levels and costs under control as a reason for its fiscal health, noting the staff complement remained at 32 in 2018, with only two new additions in the past five years.
“You continue to carry out the services that you’re performing and provided to the residents and still doing so in a pretty responsible manner there, as well,” he said.
“Overall, the financial health of the township remains very strong. And the township is very well-positioned for future growth. I think that’s really a good reflection of the consistent financial management that the township has undertaken over the past several years,” said Ardnt.
The report was welcome news to those around the council table.
“It was an excellent report, and we appreciate that,” said Mayor Joe Nowak. “I think the staff needs some credit for this too because they watch their spending very carefully. And I’ll give the council a pat on the back, too.
“At the budget time last year, we went line by line, and we took our time, and we debated. And we came up with I thought, a fair tax increase. So all in all, it was a very good year.”
The full audit report can be found online at www.wellesley.ca.