2016 surplus to advance community priorities

March 23, 2017

2016 surplus to advance community priorities

On March 23, Strathcona County reported a $19.3 million surplus from 2016 municipal operations, representing 6.9 per cent of the $280 million budget.

“The 2016 surplus will be used to advance community priorities, decrease debt and responsibly add to our reserves,” says Mayor Roxanne Carr.

Surpluses are the result of hard-to-predict or emergent circumstances that are difficult to budget precisely. A number of factors contributed to the 2016 municipal operating surplus, including: lower costs for fuel, road maintenance materials and utilities, lower winter road maintenance, favourable contract circumstances, higher than estimated tax revenues due to growth, and greater gains on investments.

Surplus dollars can be used to advance community priorities by funding one-time, high-priority projects, to avoid debt, or to build reserve funds to meet future needs that may emerge.  

Strathcona County will allocate $8.3 million of the municipal surplus to fund future strategic land purchases. An additional $4 million will fund the underground parkade being built in Centre in the Park, further reducing borrowing and future tax impact.

The County will also direct $3.9 million toward general and emergent projects, and allocate $2.3 million to the contingency reserve for unforeseen climatic conditions, and protective services extraordinary circumstances.

Utility operations saw a surplus of $2.3 million, representing 3.8 per cent of the $59 million 2016 budget. This surplus will be placed in reserves to address future infrastructure maintenance and replacement needs.

Factors contributing to a utilities operating surplus include savings in solid waste contracts, higher solid waste user fee revenue due to higher customer volumes, and savings in water and wastewater purchases due to lower consumption. Utility operations are self-sustaining, funded through user-pay, not through property taxes.

“While it is prudent to budget an appropriate contingency, the County is taking steps to improve future financial results,” says Mayor Carr. “Bringing in a 2.15 per cent municipal tax dollar decrease for 2017 is a result of a more analytical and strategic fiscal approach.”

In developing the 2017 budget, the County analyzed budget to actual spending, budgeted less conservatively with consideration of risks, and applied priority-based budgeting to fund areas of higher priority. These contributed to realizing the 2017 municipal tax dollar decrease, and set a foundation for financial planning for the future.

Set in the centre of Alberta’s energy and agricultural heartland, Strathcona County is a thriving, successful and vibrant community of over 98,000 residents. Strathcona County is made up of the urban area of Sherwood Park and a large adjacent rural area of farms, acreages and smaller hamlets. It is home to 75 per cent of refining in Western Canada. With a focus on economic, governance, social, cultural and environmental sustainability, Strathcona County is committed to balancing the unique needs of its diverse community.

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Strathcona County Communications, 780-410-6595