Region projects surplus of $10.3M in 2021

By CityNews Kitchener Staff

Our region's latest financial update is showing some potentially good news – in a particularly difficult year – as regional staff project the region will have a budget surplus of approximately $10.3 million for 2021, representing 1.9 per cent of property tax and user rate revenue. 

According to a staff report delivered to regional council on Wednesday, savings are anticipated to flow from a number of different pandemic-related factors including $1.5M from the temporary closure of our region's museums and $300,000 in savings from libraries. 

In addition, redeployment of staff from support areas with the region to assist with COVID-19 vaccine distribution reportedly resulted in savings of $1.6M, with the majority of redeployed staff not back filed. 

Staff also note that non-tax revenue is currently anticipated to be higher at the Region of Waterloo International Airport, to the tune of $1.7M, as a result of increased airport activity and commercial airline service, as well as a savings of $2.2M in Waste Management due to “higher non-residential volumes and increased recycling revenue driven by market prices.”

Speaking to the “good news” on Wednesday was Regional Councillor Tom Galloway, who noted that the projected surplus will be flowing to the region's reserves – particularly to the tax stabilization fund – which Galloway notes has been particularly helpful in doing “good work” for the region in providing for one-time expenses or funding for projects that are known to receive needed funds at a later date.

“I know some people in the community will think oh, there's a 10.3 million dollar surplus being projected and what all can that be used for – but it is less than two per cent of our actual operating budget from the levy.” said Galloway.

“We're operating on the right side of the line, but still fairly close to the line – and of course (…) we actually by law cannot run a deficit so you actually have to have a surplus if you're not going to have a deficit, because you're not going to come up on zero.”

Galloway offered his “kudos” to city staff for their hard work as he noted that while the “very difficult year” is not yet over, the projection still looks “pretty good” for the region.

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