Tofino to set aside surprise surplus for sewer, water, recreation

The district of Tofino has some extra money to play with and will put a chunk of it towards a reserve fund for sewer upgrades.

Tofino is expecting 2013’s financial report to come in within the next few weeks and anticipates roughly $643,383 worth of surplus, according to a report from Tofino’s director of financial services Nyla Attiana.

The bulk of this surplus stems from an expected $411,682 remaining in the district’s operating fund with the remaining dollars being leftover from the water and sewer funds.

“The operating fund surplus was due to unanticipated revenue collection and lower than anticipated expenditures in several areas,” Attiana said through the report.

“The unanticipated revenues were return on investments, lease and rental income, bylaw fines and permits, daycare fees and subsidies, development fees, recreation program revenue, and facility rentals.” Attiana’s report recommended $2,300 of the surplus be put towards recreation programming, $9,215 to equipment reserve for the Community Children’s Centre and $100,000 to the district’s general reserve.

She suggested the remaining funds-roughly $531,868-be split with 35 per cent going to a roads infrastructure reserve fund, 35 per cent to a sewer utility reserve fund, and 30 per cent to a water utility reserve fund.

Council agreed with the specific recommendations towards recreation programming, the Children’s Centre, and the general reserve fund but Coun. Dorothy Baert wanted to see a higher amount of what was left go towards the sewer coffers.

“A lot of money has been put into the whole water infrastructure, which seems to be working really well, but we’re not yet creating reserves as far as I can tell for our secondary treatment and maybe we ought to be looking at these funds going into reserves for that,” she said.

She noted water capital projects are funded through a tax levy, and suggested nixing the water reserve from the surplus allocations and dividing the remaining surplus evenly between roads and sewer.

“I feel we have spent millions on our water infrastructure and we have now these current reports on road infrastructure and we know that the sewer infrastructure is going to be coming up fast and furious on our heels, so I think it’s a statement to the community that our eyes are focused on that,” she said.

Attiana noted staff’s recommendation called for the sewer reserve to receive a higher allocation of the surplus than the water reserve.

“Once the liquid waste management plan has been approved or adopted we will be able to levy for sewer as well but at this time we can’t, so we’ve increased the percentage for sewer,” Attiana said.

Coun. Duncan McMaster said he was reluctant to remove the water reserve from the list completely and suggested the proposed 30 per cent allocation be reduced to 20 per cent rather than zero.

“Water is a matter of life in this community,” he said. “I could support reducing it but not to zero.”

Coun. Al Anderson suggested Attiana’s original recommendation had been well considered by district staff but that he was willing to alter the allocation.

“This is more of a statement than truly based on any sound financial planning, really, but it is a surplus, so we’re more flexible with that,” he said.

The 40-40-20 allocation was approved unanimously.

reporter@westerlynews.ca