Manitoba

White stuff turns Winnipeg budget from black to red

All the white stuff Winnipeg received in December means the city will wind up in the red instead of the black​ when all the accounts are settled for last year.

Blanket of snow in December has city projecting $6.2M year-end deficit

Winnipeg started December with about $10 million left in its snow-clearing budget for 2016. It wound up overspending that budget by $11 million. (Chris Armstrong/CBC)

All the white stuff Winnipeg received in December means the city will wind up in the red instead of the black​ when all the accounts are settled for last year.

City finance officials are projecting a budget deficit of $6.2 million for the end of 2016, based on figures from Nov. 30. That's an $8.7-million swing from the previous year-end projection: a $2.5-million surplus, based on accounts from the end of October.

The main reason for the change was exceptional snowfall in December, officials say in a report to council's finance committee. At the beginning of December, there was about $10 million left in the city's $33.5-million snow-clearing budget. 

Officials now say they expect to have overspent that budget by $11 million.

"The overexpenditures are the result of above-average snow accumulation during December. December 2016 was the second snowiest December and the seventh snowiest month overall on record, with 68.8 centimetres of snow versus a 30 year average of 23 centimetres," the report states.

Savings in other city departments partly offset the snow-clearing budget deficit, the report states. The final deficit for 2016 will be reported in February. 

A $6.2 million shortfall on Winnipeg's budget of $1.08 billion for 2016 represents a deficit of roughly half of one percentage point. The city typically deals with year-end deficits by forgoing transfers to reserve accounts, or if necessary transferring money from reserves to cover the shortfall.

The city also planned to transfer $9.5-million in leftover money from 2016 to cover off the 2017 budget. Mayor Brian Bowman said Wednesday the city will have to make do without this transfer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.

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