WINNIPEG, MB – The City of Winnipeg should thank Mother Nature for her part in the $15 million surplus for 2017, as a portion of the surplus is due to less snow removal costs.
The surplus will be transferred to the Financial Stabilization Reserve.
The City undertook a number of measures to offset the impact of a $9.5 million budget shortfall arising from the 2016 tax-supported operating budget. A cost mitigation strategy was proposed and implemented that included a hiring freeze, restrictions on discretionary departmental spending including the use of external consultants and conference related travel, as well as limiting other discretionary spending which covered the shortfall.
The City also benefited from negotiated collective agreements approved by Council which resulted in significant savings in 2017. Furthermore, several departments reported further savings to expenses and additional revenues, which also contributed to the favourable year-end variance.
The City is still in discussions with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) regarding funding for ambulance services for 2017 and future years. While no decisive long-term funding agreement has been reached, the WRHA has advised that 2017 funding will be capped at 2016 levels, which would result in an estimated $2.3 million shortfall in funding. The City expects the WRHA to provide this funding.
In addition, the City and the Province are continuing discussions regarding provincial funding to the City for 2017 capital projects, totalling approximately $109.2 million. In respect of the capital projects, the City has submitted claims for $78.3 million, for which payments of $24.6 million have been received to date.
“I’m pleased that the cost control measures and the negotiated collective agreements in 2017 contributed to a year-end surplus. This surplus allows us to strengthen the Financial Stabilization Reserve,” said Councillor Scott Gillingham, Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance. “While there is still some uncertainty regarding provincial funding levels, all efforts have been made to exercise sound decision-making in regards to the City’s finances.”
The increase in surplus from November’s $8.7 million projection is largely attributable to savings related to snow clearing in December due to minimal snow accumulation.