Transit exceeded its budget for a number of reasons, including higher-than-projected overtime costs.
“Transit Services predicts a year end over expenditure of approximately $280,000 as a result of transit operator overtime and increased wage costs due to staff on modified work programs,” says a report prepared for the Sept. 18 meeting of the finance and administration committee.
“Handi-Transit costs (are) anticipated to be $100,000 over budget as a result of transportation adjustment costs and increased rider demand. Fleet Services is projected to be over budget $150,000 as a result of increased maintenance costs for the city’s aging fleet.”
Higher than expected revenues of about $500,000 offset the Transit overruns, with the city taking in about $200,000 more in provincial and federal grants than it anticipated. Another $300,000 was earned in interest on investments and tax arrears.
Lower social services costs of about $350,000 also contributed to the city’s bottom line. The savings were realized because fewer people claimed social assistance and because of staff vacancies.
The largest single contributor to the city’s surplus is the winter roads maintenance budget, which was $1 million under budget.
“The under expenditures were largely a result of a decreased requirement for snow removal, sanding, salting and plowing,” the report says.
Higher costs covering for staff on maternity and paternity leave led to a $245,345 cost overrun for emergency medical services, but surpluses in other areas of the emergency services budget reduced that total to $164,510.
A staff report also offers an overview of capital projects, a mixed bag that includes some projects that came in over and under budget. For example, fixing the roof at the Jim Coady Arena cost $51,905 less than the $280,000 budget, because less insulation was required than budgeted.
And $288,472 in unplanned spending resulted from the construction of a new school. The sanitary sewer system at Ramsey View Court had to be replaced because it was in such poor condition and had to handle an increase in usage.
The report comes as councillors gear up for the 2013 budget process. As part of efforts to limit the tax hike to the rate of inflation, a brainstorming meeting was held in June to come up with areas where the city can save money.
As a result of the meeting, staff reports are being prepared on several of the ideas.
Areas being reviewed include: Pioneer Manor operations; surplus land and buildings; a review of the policy that gives some staff city cars; municipal daycare operations; the city’s ownership of trailer parks and campgrounds; options to reduce spending on emergency shelter and top ups for homelessness; and, user fee increases.
As it stands now, taxpayers are looking at a 4.4 per cent increase in taxes. Based on the preliminary budget forecast, and an expected $1 million reduction in provincial grants.