Charlottetown posts $2.5M surplus
Easy winter rides to the rescue of Charlottetown budget
The City of Charlottetown posted a much larger surplus than expected in 2017, with the biggest chunk of the savings coming from a minimal need to clear snow over the winter.
The city had projected an $813 surplus last March, but is now looking at a $2.55 million surplus — $2.3 million from the city's operating budget and $250,000 from water and sewer.
In all, the city saved almost $2 million in expenditures, with about $800,000 of that coming from the contingency budget, which is often eaten up by snow clearing.
Some of that unspent contingency is also to cover the costs of new contracts being negotiated with city unions. The shoe is yet to drop on those, and that contingency has been transferred to the upcoming year.
The city was also able to shave expenditures by small amounts in most line items, which added up to the majority of the expenditure savings.
The finances of snow
Easy winter is a relative term.
Snowfall in 2017 was only slightly below average, but the city was still struggling with deficits from a big winter in 2014 and the so-called Snowmageddon of 2015. The city budgeted $3.7 million just for snow removal last year, and spent a bit more than that. The difference in the budget, is that it hardly had to touch a contingency built in for snowy years.
Mother Nature took it easy on the city last year, and this year is looking even more promising. To the end of February, snowfall this winter is only about 60 per cent of the norm.
Busy downtown streets
On the revenue side, the city did particularly well with parking, gathering about $360,000 more than expected from parking meters and parking garages.
City CAO Peter Kelly said it was a busy summer in the city.
"We had a great tourism year last year, and as a result both on the street and off the street we increased revenues," he said.
An extra long fiscal year
This year's $2.3 million surplus is transferred to the upcoming year's budget, and with the help of that the city is projecting a $4,962 surplus.
With changes in the Municipal Government Act, the city is changing its fiscal year to match the province's. Starting in 2019, the fiscal year will run from April to April rather than on the calendar year.
To make that change, this year's fiscal will be Jan.1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
The shift leads to some unusual line items, particularly in snow removal and the related contingency budget, because the budget has to deal with two winters.