The Town of Amherst continues to be in strong financial shape, says Corporate Services Director Vince Arbing.
Arbing made the comment Nov. 15 during an audit committee meeting where it was announced that as of Sept. 30 – the end of the second quarter – the town had a $369,121 surplus in its general operating fund.
One of the major contributors to the surplus was a savings of $132,680 in wages and benefits, the result of several vacant positions that had not been filled by the end of the quarter. As an example, he pointed to the building inspector position that was vacant for nearly three months before it was filled in June. Other vacant positions existed in public works, business development and recreation.
Many of those positions have been filled since the end of the second quarter, but the savings will carry on until the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2018, Arbing said.
Another $100,000 was saved in fiscal services because the town’s share of the deficit of the Cobequid Regional Housing Authority came in lower than what the authority had initially indicated it would be, Arbing said.
While these two factors played a major role in the surplus, Arbing said both were factors “that we don’t expect to reoccur.”
The town also brought in $43,864 more in revenue than what it had budgeted.
“I can tell you that all the departments came in under budget during the first two quarters,” Arbing said. “That is due to good management in each department. The managers keep a close eye on expenditures.”
Arbing said the town is only half way through its fiscal year and the surplus could be affected by future expenditures during the remaining two quarters.
“We still have the whole winter ahead of us,” Arbing said. “Snow and ice clearing expenditures are never a certainty because we never know what kind of winter we are going to have, and the type of winter we have could have a major impact on the operating budget.”
If there is a surplus in the operating budget at the completion of the fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2018, it would be placed in the town’s operation reserves.
Currently, the town’s operating reserves, as measured by the province’s Financial Condition Index, are in good shape. The index’s threshold is 10 per cent of operating expenditures.
“We are at 12.6 per cent,” Arbing said.
The Amherst Water Utility had an $11,297 surplus at the end of the second quarter despite the fact revenues were under budgeted by $9,617. Expenditures during the same period were under budget by $20,914.
Work continued on the town’s capital projects during the second quarter. The town budgeted $14.5 million in projects, with $7.7 million set aside for the reservoir replacement project, $2.2 million for the East Victoria Street reconstruction project and $1.6 million for the Station Street storm sewer project.
All of the above projects are receiving 75 per cent funding through provincial and federal contributions under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
The second quarter financial report is available at https://amherst.ca/quarterly-financial-reports.html.