October snow and ice storm batters Winnipeg city finances for 2019

The City of Winnipeg will draw $1.1 million from its fiscal reserve fund to balance its books. The massive snow storm in October sucked what might have been a surplus out of its books.

Winnipeg will draw $1.1 million from its fiscal reserve fund to balance its books

Part of the mess left behind from a massive October snowstorm is financial, prompting a draw on the city's "rainy day fund." (Austin Grabish/CBC)

A blanket of heavy snow and ice last October has forced the City of Winnipeg to saw out some extra cash from its fiscal reserve fund at the end of 2019.

Cleaning up thousands of fallen trees and branches and clearing the icy streets forced the city to spend $6.4 million after the late-October storm.

The result is a deficit that will be eliminated by a draw of $1.1 million out of its reserve fund, according to a report to the city's finance committee.

Last year the city posted a surplus of $19.5 million — one of the largest in many years.

The storm cost a further $800,000 in expenses to the city's water and waste department and a projected $400,000 in costs to be paid out in 2020, but those amounts are not included in the city's book-balancing for the past year.

The city may recover at least some of the expenses; last month the Manitoba government announced it would start a disaster financial assistance program for the storm.

Overall, the city's snow removal and ice control operations for last year ran an over-expenditure of $9.8 million on a total budget of $34.8 million.

The city also overspent on legal services by $1 million, mostly related to payments for external legal fees.

Higher vehicle maintenance costs and fewer inspection fees resulted in a $1.8-million shortfall in the Fire Paramedic Service budget.

The final financial report for 2019 also shows Winnipeg Transit posting a surplus of $6.9 million, saving money on fuel purchases and on salaries and benefits and debt financing.

The preliminary budget for 2020 and three years beyond will be tabled on March 6.