Summerside expects most departments to hit budget targets

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Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall listens as Coun. Frank Costa, finance committee chairman, reads through the recommendation by for council to approve a reduction in the pension premiums paid by the city and its employees.

The City of Summerside says most of its departments are on budgetary track for 2015.

Councillor Frank Costa, chairman of the city finance committee, gave a brief financial outlook during Monday night’s council meeting. Most of what Costa had to report was positive, but he did note a few budgetary shortfalls. The city is not allowed, by legislation, to run a deficit.

“All through the year we’ve been wanting our departments within their budgets and I think in most cases we’re going to be true to (having) either a small surplus or break even by fiscal year end,” said Costa.

Some bright spots Costa highlighted included the city’s electric utility, which performed better than expected to the tune of $260,000 more than expected being generated so far this year. 

RELATED: Councillor questions cost of Summerside's budget consultations

Costa attributed that boon to stronger than expected electricity sales, both residential and commercial, as well as lower than expected costs when the city had to buy power from New Brunswick Power Corporation.

There have been, however, some notable exceptions to the city’s even keel finances for 2015, most notably  in regards to snow clearing.

The city spent $400,000 more to clean up this year’s record breaking snowfall than what was budgeted.

However, it was saved from that shortfall by a one-time unbudgeted payment of $645,000 from the provincial government to help cover the costs.

All that snow also caused a shortfall in the revenues for Community Services.

The many storms throughout January to March closed Credit Union Place several times, decreasing its revenues in ice rentals and other fees.

The city had originally budgeted $68,500 coming from rentals at the facility, but as of this week the facility has brought in only about $30,200.

The city’s second major utility, water and sewer, will also end this year in the red to the tune of $70,000 where it had originally been budgeted for a surplus of $175,000.

Costa attributed that shortfall to an unexpected spike in the cost of chemicals used in the wastewater treatment plant, he also noted insurance claims for a sewer backup incident on West Drive in 2012 to which the city was only recently billed for the liability insurance deductible.

In terms of the city’s capital spending, it expects to only spend about $9.2 million of the budgeted $9.6 million.

Costa said that auditors will start going through the city’s books for 2015 before the end of the month and will have a report prepared early in the new year.

City council is targeting the end of January to have a 2016 budget ready for official adoption, which is much earlier than in previous years.

Organizations: New Brunswick Power, Community Services, Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Summerside, West Drive

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