Surplus of more than $900K for MH
By Chad Ingram
The Township of Minden Hills accrued a large surplus last year, one totalling more than $900,000.
During a May 14 committee-of-the-whole meeting, councillors received a report from chief administrative officer/treasurer Lorrie Blanchard indicating that, pending an audit, the township had accrued a 2019 surplus of $904,370. That surplus is equivalent to 10.72 per cent of the year’s tax levy.
Blanchard’s report showed that much of the surplus, more than
$500,000, is attributed to unfilled staffing positions and associated
wages and benefits.
Of note, this summary provides a separate column that outlines the amount of surplus that is attributed to wages and benefits as it relates to an inability to replace staff, to hire new staff (as approved by council) and/or as a result of hirings that occurred later than expected and budgeted,” the report read. “This total represents approximately $503,480.”
Additional variances included supplemental taxes, write-offs, amounts retained from the school board, gas tax top-ups and bank interest income that was higher than budgeted. The report also included a list of potential projects where some of the surplus could be spent, including more than $300,000 worth of “value items” for the township’s arena project, those being items such as furniture and equipment not included in the project’s budget.
Bob Carter said he thought the township was going to receive some
pretty extreme criticism having a surplus that totalled nearly 11 per
cent of its tax levy.
“I think it’s very important for us to recognize that this isn’t found money, this is taxpayer money,” Carter said. Carter said he thought the surplus should be used for core projects to help offset any tax increase for residents next year, and not on “favourites” that were on the list of potential uses.
Carter noted that 2020 was going be a difficult year for many.
“From my perspective, it’s not going into nice-to-have projects,” Carter said, with Councillor Ron Nesbitt saying he agreed with Carter 100 per cent.
“I hope with our next budget we can manage this better,” said Councillor Pam Sayne with regard to the size of the surplus.
“A lot of people in our county during this pandemic are without work,” said Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell, agreeing that the surplus should be used to offset any tax increase next year.
Council is also considering
ways to assist residents with some relief on property taxes and is
scheduled to discuss that issue further at an upcoming meeting. Mayor
Brent Devolin said he’d like to see a post-COVID-19 analysis of the
township’s finances conducted later in the year.
For the time being, the surplus will be parked in the township’s capital project reserve.