First quarter 2024 Financial Report

It’s refreshing to see a timely report on budget performance. At the April Council meeting, Finance Director Adam Giddings will provide a report on the Operating and Capital actual expenditures in Q1 compared to the amounts budgeted. The report is comprehensive with a breakdown by department and includes comments as to why there are variances. The first thing to notice is that spending in Q1 is 22% below the amount planned – a good portion of that is because many planned hirings have not yet happened plus there have been some unplanned resignations.  But it’s not all because of that and although there is considerable detail in the report, some items are not explained – see the full report and/or my summary below.

Some of the variances will be balanced by spending in later quarters but this is not applicable to unspent salaries for personnel not yet hired.

Highlights of report – January to March 2024

Note: Does not include Police

Overall Operations

Department Budget at March 31 Actual at March 31 Increase (Decrease) Increase (Decrease)
General Government 1,316,019 1,007,682 (308,337) (23%)
Protection – Other 1,455,991 1,256,011 (199,980) (14%)
Public Works 1,248,777 1,043,496 (205,281) (16%)
Parks and Recreation 1,237,020 817,863 (419,157) (34%)
Culture and Community 458,801 336,792 (122,010) (27%)
Planning and Development 186,169 100,618 (85,550) (46%)
Commercial and Economic Development 166,455 146,758 (19,697) (12%)
Total 6,069,232 4,709,220 (1,360,011) (22%)

Variations by Department (Highlights)

General Government

There were decreases due to delays in hiring  the Council Coordinator position, the Manager of the Office of the CAO, the Manager of Procurement and the Senior Financial Analyst position remains vacant. There’s more detail in the full report.

Protection – Other (Mostly Fire Dept).

Some of the decrease is due to a decrease in wages due to a delay in hiring the two probationary firefighters as well as hiring the part-time firefighters, and two staff on WSIB, causing a decrease of $144,188 at March 31, 2024.

Public Works

Transit budget for Q1 was 279,457; actual was 147,270. No explanation is provided although transportation revenue was 68,508 compared to a Q1 budget of 272,532. Again, there’s more detail in the full report but the transit budget is not explained.

Parks and Recreation

Includes Community Centre. Most of the variance is because costs and revenues are seasonal.

Culture and Community

Includes Concert Hall. Most of the variance is because costs and revenues are seasonal.

Planning and Development

The decrease in planning is consistent with decrease in wages due to vacancies as follows: Manager of Long-Range Planning, Planner II – Development, Sustainability Coordinator, Principal Planner.

The vacancies have resulted in a decrease of $75,154 at March 31, 2024. Q2 will be presumably be further impacted by the absence of the Director of Planning and Development.

Stormwater

Stormwater is a rate support program, funded entirely by the user fees that are used to pay for the services provided and the infrastructure to deliver them. Any year end surpluses are transferred to a reserve. The amount received by LUSI for the period January to March 2024 is $698,005. There’s more detail in the full report.

Environmental

Similar to stormwater, the net of environmental expenses revenue is planned to be transferred to a reserve. That is, the expenses and capital are funded by user fees.

Capital

Total approved for 2024 was $ 11,024,488.  ($7.2M is for Public Works projects). Very little of this has been spent so far – see full report for amounts by department and the status of each project. An excellent update.

From memory, this is the best financial report for the Town in the last several years and Finance Director Adam Gidding deserves praise for the transparency and timeliness.

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11 Comments
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Sandpiper
1 month ago

Reduced wages should soon be another head line
So why is everyone jumping ship at the town
The Planning dept staff are quitting left right and center .
Rumor has it a private Planning Consulting firm may have to be hired what is that going to cost
Projects and affordable housing just went out the window in this town
Having to carry expansive property over long periods of time is costing someone down the road.
This is pushing the town back by 2 or 3 yrs .

cornbread
1 month ago

Transportation revenue at less than 25% of budget worries me…big time.

Ahewson
Reply to  cornbread
1 month ago

Leave it to cornbread to focus on a negative.

cornbread
Reply to  Ahewson
1 month ago

There is a name for a bird who buries its head in the sand when danger appears.

Bryan
Reply to  cornbread
29 days ago

Cornbread,

The quarterly budget amounts are calculated as one quarter of the budget total. The budget does not consider seasonality. Transportation is actually parking and parking revenue is very seasonal.
The analysis result for transportation is not meaningful.

Eastender
1 month ago

I thought the stormwater management tax was for stormwater management. If there is a surplus at the end of the year, shouldn’t ratepayers be refunded instead of the taxes going into reserve fund?

Bryan
Reply to  Eastender
1 month ago

Eastender.

The SWM is a fee. not a tax, according to the by-law.
The SWM fee surplus is transferred to the SWM reserve. The idea is to build a reserve so that future large repairs/projects won’t be a large “hit” on the property owners. Being somewhat skeptical, I don’t see this plan working. Staff will always be able to spend whatever funds are available and ask for more.

Eastender
Reply to  Bryan
1 month ago

I believe fees are voluntary. Whereas taxes are not.

Gerinator
Reply to  Eastender
1 month ago

I ‘voluntarily’ paid last months lake front bill.

Bryan
Reply to  Eastender
1 month ago

Eastender,
Fees are for specific goods or services received. Taxes are “in general” and not for specific denominated goods/services.

Bryan
1 month ago

Totally agree with JD that Adam G deserves an “Atta-boy” for the transparency and timeliness of this report and the equally important Town Debt Management Report.

The report notes that in Q1 2024 the Town has received $698,005 from LUSI on behalf of the SWM fee. The 2024 SWM budget is $1,702.363, so the quarterly billing is $425,591. A significant portion of the receipt must be 2023 SWM. It would be interesting (useful??) to know how much of the $1.6M 2023 SWM billing has been collected.