By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Two months into a new year, Northumberland County finances are in great shape.
That was the news delivered at the April meeting of county council’s Finance and Audit Committee this week by Deputy Treasurer Matthew Nitsch.
Nitsch’s report covered 2023 in year-to-date form as of Feb. 28, at which point the budget was in a favourable position by $7.7-million, though some of it was due to timing. For example – though the Northumberland County Archives and Museum-Golden Plough Lodge project is an exception – construction projects do not typically get underway until spring.
Even so, the GPL/NCAM project accounts for more than half of that favourable position at $4.6-million. And even the recent Northumberland County Housing Corporation purchase of a Colborne rental property worked out to the good, with half the price coming from reserves.
The timing of the roll-out of certain union increases and benefits means that, at this point, there is a favourable $566,000 variance for salaries, wages and benefits.
The only unfavourable item on Nitsch’s list was the amount of $224,000 under Operating Revenue. Just about half of this – $107,000 – is due to dropping commodity prices realized for salvaged materials from the MRF at the end of last year. Those prices are starting to pick up.
So is interest, with a favourable standing of $326,000 on investments. Committee member Mandy Martin asked for more details on this – whether this means the rate are picking up and if that had been factored into this year’s budget.
Nitsch said he believed they were factored in, and that interest income had picked up a bit – at this point, slightly above what was estimated.
The committee also passed a bylaw repealing the bylaw they passed last year to establish Lame Duck procedures in light of the October municipal election.
Under the Municipal Act, a council body facing re-election (or potential defeat) is limited for a given period – in this case, Aug. 19, 2022, through Dec. 14, 2022 – in terms of certain powers such as the appointment or removal from office of any officer of the municipality, the hiring or dismissal of any municipal employee, and making decisions concerning expenditures, liabilities or disposal of municipal property in excess of $50,000.
For that period, Director of Finance Glenn Dees explained, such decisions are left in the hand of himself and Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Moore.
“In effect, there weren’t any activities that needed to be reported,” Dees told the committee.
In his report, he said no actions had been taken exercising this authority. No real-estate transactions were closed, he said, and all procurement matters were executed by staff “in accordance with existing and on-going policies and bylaws as permissible and within the Council approved 2022 budget.”
Though the original bylaw had a time limit, the report continued, “it is an administrative best practice to officially repeal this bylaw.”
The committee unanimously passed the new bylaw effecting the repeal.