Sudbury

Severe winter to blame as City of Greater Sudbury projects $7.3M shortfall

Staff at the City of Greater Sudbury are looking at ways of curtailing future expenses after a hard winter contributed to a deficit of $7.3 million.

Staff recommends council re-examine capital expenses, hiring of contractors to curb spending

The City of Greater Sudbury says a severe winter is contributing to a $7.3 million deficit in 2019. (Kari Vierimaa/CBC)

Staff at the City of Greater Sudbury are looking at ways of curtailing future expenses after a hard winter contributed to a deficit of $7.3 million.

The city presented its 2019 operating budget variance report at a finance committee meeting Tuesday. The report said a record amount of snowfall was a major cause for the overage, with an estimated overrun of $4.2 million.

The severe weather also forced other municipal services to go over budget, including snow removal at transit shelters and bus stops, and snow removal to improve sight lines at intersections.

"Based on the extraordinary winter conditions we had, we knew that winter control would be over-spent, but it was over- spent by 4.2 million dollars, so significant," said Ed Stankiewicz, the city's executive director of finance, assets and fleets.

The city is hoping to rein in spending with a recommendation to  postpone any hiring of non-union positions wherever possible.

"The CAO has directed staff to look non-union vacancies and not to fill them immediately, so there will be salary gapping, there should be some savings there, as well reviewing capital projects that have not been undertaken yet this year and have the dollar values contribute to the operating fund," said Stankiewicz.

Another recommendation is to review the annual debt payments for projects where debt has not been paid to date.

To compensate, the city will dip into its reserve funds.

"The Reserve and Reserve Fund By-law allows for funds to be used from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve and the Capital Financing Reserve Fund-General in the event of a deficit," the report states.

"Alternatively, in the event of a surplus, the additional funds would be equally distributed between the two reserves."

The report adds that property taxes may be affected if the total deficit is not addressed by the end of the year and included in the next year's budget.

With files from Jamie-Lee McKenzie

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