SUMMERSIDE – The city of Summerside is moving into the third fiscal quarter in a solid financial position, says the financial services committee chairman.
“The city has experienced a strong financial performance so far in 2014,” said Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall, financial committee chair. “As of the end of April, the city realized a $1.1 million surplus in its budget. This surplus was particularly reflected in the higher than projected wind energy sales and the lower than projected spending in economic development and capital projects.”
MacDougall did point out that the city is entering the time of the year when the activity in capital projects tends to wrap up.
“We need to closely monitor projects to ensure that they stay within budget,” he said.
Along with the budget surplus, the city’s pension plan is also strong.
“The finance committee recently received an update on the health of the city’s pension plan,” MacDougall said. “As of the end of last year, the unfunded liability stood at $4.3 million. The assets within the plan performed very well over the past year. The city’s pension plan is comparably in better financial health then the plans of many similar size and larger municipalities in Atlantic Canada.”
The financial services staff is working on strategic projects that will be their key focus for the rest of the year, the deputy mayor said.
“Our biggest priority is the ongoing development of a long-term capital improvement plan which will contain the city’s infrastructure priorities over the next 10 years and a plan for how these priorities will be funded,” he said. “The goal is to release this plan by the end of the summer.”
He said this work ties in with the province’s initiative to develop a comprehensive assets management program required for all municipalities.
“In order to access the federal gas tax funding in the future, all municipalities must have some form of assets management program in place by March 31, 2018,” MacDougall said. “Projects such as this and our capital improvement plan will help us produce better information for decision-making and enhance our process for transparency and accountability.”
Another major focus for the city is the ongoing discussion with the province over a proposed revenue-sharing agreement.
“The city was notified that its servicing grant and equalization funding will each be increased by one per cent over the 2013-2014 level,” MacDougall said. “However, there are other aspects of the funding arrangement that are still under discussion with then province. While we acknowledge the province has financial challenges of its own, we and other municipalities would be looking for an agreement that is fair, recognizes our fiscal challenges, our financial challenges and provides a stable and predictable level of funding for the long term.”