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Provincial funding for COVID-related expenses a boon for Tay

Treasurer says province provided $334,000, notes the township remains in a financially viable position despite pandemic-related hiccups
Joanne Sanders, manager of financial services/treasurer, gave an overview of the township's finances at a recent council meeting. Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday

Much-needed provincial funds to help cover pandemic-related expenses are welcome, say Tay Township officials.

At a committee of the whole meeting this week, councillors learned that the province allocated $334,000 for the municipality. The money, said Joanne Sanders, manager of financial services/treasurer, is to help cover COVID-related expenses.

Until now, she noted, the township has spent $35,000 towards measures, such as barricades and stanchions.

Sanders presented to council a financial and reserves report. The financial report, Sanders said, shows summary information for the township, library and water wastewater (expenses and revenues) for the first seven months of 2020.

"We took in $592,000 in development receipts in 2019 and we spent $470,000," said Sanders. "Over $100,000 was spent on roads and a number of debt payments related to water and sewer have come out of the funds." 

This supplementary tax revenue is down considerably from 2019, she said. 

"I think due to COVID-19 and them not having the ability to go into buildings this year in the earlier season has affected this," said Sanders. "The assessment office has indicated that they are working on strategies to pick up more assessment. They are looking at other ways to gain data without necessarily visiting the properties. We do expect this will hopefully get a little better by the end of the year."

Overall, she said, it won't affect the surplus for the township; it's just a reduced revenue stream until it picks up again.

As well, Sanders said, user fees and service charges are below budget, at about 32% of what was budgeted. 

"This category includes program registration fees and rentals," she said. "We also in this area see a significant reduction in expenditure, so not really a huge concern there."

The township is also not seeing a great reduction in fines and penalties and interest on taxes, due to the waiver in place for 2020, Sanders said. 

"This is a result of greater amount of arrears in taxes held in the years prior to 2020," she said, adding the reduction is not as staff had expected it would be.

"We currently have 970 utility accounts and 1,330 tax accounts on pre-authorized payment plans," Sanders said. "This has remained constant in 2020. We had anticipated people would ask to be removed but we haven't seen that." 

Another revenue stream for the township that has seen a bit of a drop is in its investment earnings, she said. 

"Interest rates are down in 2020 and therefore, we will see lower revenues from our investments," Sanders said. "It does not affect the surplus because council has a policy of transferring any interest above $70,000 to the capital infrastructure reserve. This was put in place for two reasons - sometimes to avoid the swing in interest rates and to give us extra funding for our infrastructure deficit." 

She said the township also saw savings in salaries and benefits due to vacant positions and newer staff on the grid, as well as absence of summer students. 

"Overall, if you take into consideration the not hiring of the summer students, $160,000 - $180,000 saving," Sanders said. "We're definitely on the positive side there."