City sets sights on debt reduction

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Summerside city officials set a goal at the beginning of 2014 to reduce the city’s overall debt.

 

It’s an ambitious plan but one that seems to be taking shape in light of the comments made Monday night by deputy mayor Bruce MacDougall, the chairman of the city’s financial services committee.

At the end of fiscal year 2013, the outstanding debt of the city stood at $66.7 million. The goal for 2014 is to reduce that to just over $65 million.

As of the end of April, the city had realized a $1.1 million surplus in its budget. This surplus was reflected in the higher than projected wind energy sales and the lower than projected spending in economic development and capital projects.

But MacDougall put out a word of caution that this is the time of year when capital improvement projects get fully underway and the city needs to be diligent in making sure they are on budget.

There is a lot of roadwork and sidewalk work ongoing in Summerside; just drive around the city and you’ll run into someone holding a stop sign. And, as annoying and irritating as that can be to someone rushing to work or home, it is a good sign for the city. Projects are being done and people are being employed.

What makes this whole picture even more surprising – the $1.1 million surplus and the road work that’s going on – is that the city is doing this without a provincial/municipal funding program and without the federal New Build Canada program dollars, both of which are tailored to fund work the city is already doing, or trying to do, on its own.

The city has already lost over $1 million since 2008, when the provincial/municipal funding formula changed from a tax credit system to a grant system, and it projects that by 2018 it will lose an estimated $7 million because of this change.

The New Build Canada program funding was supposed to be flowing by March 31, but nothing yet has come to Summerside or Prince Edward Island.

The city has had to be resourceful in its spending and getting the important projects, the ones the citizens want done, underway wherever possible. And they have been.

If city officials keep on the mark, they will reach the goal of reducing the total outstanding debt to $65,024,038 by year’s end.

And, as a point of interest, the city projects further debt reductions in the upcoming years: $60,778.018 by the end of 2015; $56,538.546 by Dec. 31, 2016; and $52 ,288,907 by the end of 2017.

Geographic location: Summerside, Prince Edward Island

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