City ended 2019 in the black: Report

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Brockville ended last year with an operating surplus of more than $356,000, according to a preliminary report by city staff.

The latest budget “variance report,” a snapshot of the city’s fiscal picture as of Dec. 31, shows Brockville ended 2019 with a surplus of $356,340.

That is offset somewhat by a deficit in the sewer department, and finance director Lynda Ferguson stressed the numbers are not yet final.

But the positive numbers were good enough for finance and administration committee chairman Coun. Larry Journal.

“It looks like a good news report to me,” he told the committee this week.

The news comes as city councillors hold what is meant to be their last budget debate on Tuesday. Changes approved in principle earlier this week have now changed the tax levy from a slight decrease over last year (-0.99 per cent) to a slight increase of 0.94 per cent.

The regular variance reports aim to detail how much the city is varying from the budget set earlier in the year.


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On the operating side, the $356,000 figure comes with some caveats, as Ferguson notes there are some items, such as assessment at risk, that need to be reconciled.

“It most certainly will change, but it’s looking good so far,” Ferguson told the committee.

Among the factors contributing to the operating surplus are revenue from interest and penalties on property taxes, with changes made to the vacancy rebate program helping by decreasing costs.

Most departments also spent less than budgeted for electricity, with rebates coming into play as well as, in some cases, increased efficiencies.

As well, building inspection activity has been robust and permit sales overperformed the budget, the staff report added.

Meanwhile, other governments helped the city out in 2019.

The report notes the city got a larger than expected transfer payment from the province through its Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, while the cost of joint services with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville came in lower than budgeted.

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the areas that came in over budget was winter maintenance.

The province’s municipal finance rules require local governments to maintain separate accounts for the water and wastewater budgets.

This latest report shows the water budget came in at a surplus of approximately $19,236.

On the wastewater side, however, the city recorded a deficit of approximately $147,500.

Ferguson said one of the factors in that number is an overall decrease in water consumption. Officials were not sure whether the decrease came from residential or industrial water use.

Even after the final calculations are done, the city staff reports are not the final word on last year’s fiscal situation. That will come later in the year when the city gets its audited financial reports.

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