Budget in ‘pretty good shape’ 6 months in, despite airport, other early shortfalls: Mayor

By Tyler Marr
August 29, 2018 - 9:00am

Six months into 2018, and it is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to Prince Albert’s books. 

The monthly miscellaneous and general fund financial reports ending June 30, 2018, were on the agenda Monday afternoon for city council's executive committee meeting. The statements are not audited and many year-end adjustments will be necessary that can result in corrections.

While most departments are operating on or under budget, a few accounts are bearing red ink.

Most notably, the city’s airport fund is unfavourable to the tune of $127,160, thanks mainly to a reduction in parking stalls and a switch to monthly payment fees from Cameco, as opposed to lumpsum deposits typically paid in January. The company has reduced its number of stalls to 200 from 255. Revenue in this area is anticipated to be down $33,000 by year-end.

Passenger facility fee revenue is also expected to further decrease due to the slowdown in uranium mining. However, due to the wildfires in May, 409 more aircraft landings took place, bolstering revenues above budgeted amounts by $32,163. But the number of passengers purchasing tickets to leave YPA has dropped by 35 per cent, or 3,006, down to just 8,659 from 11,665 this time last year. Overall, aircraft movements are down by 391, or six per cent.

The general fund is short $819,724, heavily weighed down by taxation revenues — $888,921 — due to mill rate changes for care homes and assessment changes on some commercial properties. 

On the community services side, golf course revenues were unfavourable by $149,395, mostly due to a late start to the season and renovation disruptions. Likewise, ice rentals at the Art Hauser Centre and Dave Steuart Arena are not meeting targets. 

Parking ticket penalties are also down by $42,587 due to several big businesses leaving downtown. The impound lot, while it has generated $259,591 to date, is $56,941 below expectations. Four hundred and twenty-two vehicles have been locked up as of June 30, with 339 retrieved and 83 still in the lot.

But offsetting some of the shortfalls are $170,00 in sundry payments negotiated through the Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) at the Satellite Station. Some losses will also be recouped via SaskPower and SaskEnergy stroking a $220,490 cheque for grant-in-lieu payments, which were not budged for. Rising interest rates and higher bank balances have led to higher interest revenues of $157,067.

Property tax penalties are also favourable by over $91,000, as some commercial properties did pay their taxes on time. 

In public works, fleet expenses are over budget by $126,715 thanks to heavy snowfalls from January through March. But, the report expects to soften this blow through a new Cardlock agreement that should lead to fuel savings.

Asked how he interpreted the balance sheet, Mayor Greg Dionne was optimistic. 

“You fix the roof and you think it is going to cost you $1,000 and it costs you $2,500. So you have to make adjustments,” he said. “In some areas, we are going to be short. In some, we are going to be up…. At this point, I think our budget is in pretty good shape.”

Dionne also pointed out the new revenue generators, like the impound lot, and said despite it underperforming, could generate half-a-million-dollars by year-end, the equivalent of two mills. 

“By making that [money] we don’t have to collect it from the taxpayers,” he said.

 

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On Twitter: @JournoMarr

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