The skinny on the city surplus

Whitehorse’s 2005 surplus is small — smaller than it should be. With a budget higher than $27 million last year, a surplus of one to…

Whitehorse’s 2005 surplus is small — smaller than it should be.

With a budget higher than $27 million last year, a surplus of one to three per cent would “be considered prudent,” according to city documents.

Well, 2005 fell far below that mark. There was only 0.32 per cent surplus left in city coffers.

While the figure is “somewhat disconcerting” it shows the municipality’s financial flexibility, said city documents.

“It indicates the city’s ability to adapt financially without having a major impact on its ratepayers,” said an administrative report dated April 18.

And falling below the line of prudence is not regular city business.

“Until 2002 the city had historically generated a substantial annual operating surplus,” said the two-page document.

What happened in 2005?

The cost of road maintenance was high.

Snow and ice control alone came in $286,000 over budget, said city finance manager Ray Goruick.

Maintaining the landfill cost $74,000 more than projected.

Labour costs for the Canada Games Centre and the Takhini Arena came in $178,000 higher than expected.

“If we wouldn’t have seen those kinds of over-expenditures we would have had a more healthy surplus,” said Goruick.

But the year wasn’t solely filled with over-spending, he added.

Investment income rose, as did licence and permit fees.

Building and construction permits in particular, generated more money than expected.

What is the outlook for 2006?

The budget has been amended to reflect the higher costs of the landfill and the city has a handle on the price tag for the recreation facilities, said Goruick.

It has been a more normal season for snow and ice as well.

“Most of them are one-time situations,” he said. (CO)