A third-quarter financial report presented to town council at last night's committee-of-the-whole meeting projects a $2,765,000 surplus for 2022.
Revenues of $1.245 million more and expenditures of $1.52 million less than budgeted are expected, explained Katherine Van Keimpema, the town's Corporate Services Executive Director. As of Sept. 30, 60 per cent of the budgeted operational costs had been incurred and it's typical closer to 75 per cent at that point.
The continued growth in the community and a larger volume of existing home sales than anticipated played a major role in the surplus. Permit revenue was $820,000 over budget, and franchise fees and other general revenue were $300,000 higher than expected. RancheHouse rental revenue was $90,000 over budget, and there was also an extra $70,000 in supplementary taxes and $100,000 in tax certificate fees.
Fine revenue is $185,000 under budget due to the province taking a larger piece of the pie.
Other expenditures projected to be under budget by year-end are contracts ($725,000), which includes $500,000 from the RCMP contract, repairs and maintenance ($90,000), advertising/publications ($105,000), and salary, wages and benefits (SWB) for vacancies in existing positions ($370,000).
The 2022 town budget included $2.7 million to increase the staffing complement, with about 50 per cent of it drawn from reserves. It was expected to take 18 months to fill all the positions and as a result, SWB expenditures for new positions were under budget by $990,000.
There are expenditure overages in the Seniors Tax Rebate Program ($45,000) and debt repayment for the protective services building ($715,000), for a net total of $530,000.
Debt repayment for the protective services building began earlier than originally planned and in the end, will save the town on interest payments. In the spring, council prudently agreed to draw $23 million in debt to fund the project in 2022 rather than waiting until 2023 in order to obtain a lower interest rate. Interest rates were accurately forecasted to rise through 2022.
Mayor Jeff Genung was concerned about what spin would be given to the surplus by local media and of push-back from the community. He says it's a 'good news' story demonstrating prudent spending by the town.
"So the other side, if I'm going to be pessimistic about it, is, well then, you shouldn't have budgeted so much for the other side of things on the operating, but no, we're actually being good stewards of your money, and we've spent less."
Van Keimpema says a four per cent expenditure surplus is in line with what other municipalities experience.
The exact surplus won't be fully known until the town financial statements are presented to council at the end of April. Van Keimpema says at that time, council will direct where any surplus will be allocated.
Financial Services put a push on generating the third-quarter report to aid council in budget deliberations that begin on Nov. 15.
"What this does do and the reason why we wanted to make sure we brought you the third-quarter report prior to budget deliberations is that you have this information because it can provide you some flexibility during the budget deliberations."
The town recorded a $3.2 million surplus in 2021.