MUSKOKA - There finally appears to be light at the end of the financial tunnel for the Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare board.
The board was told at its monthly meeting on May 9 in Huntsville that the agency has an unaudited surplus of $269,982 for the year ended March 31. This marks the second straight year the budget has realized a surplus.
MAHC had projected a balanced budget for the coming year, a far cry from the million-dollar deficits it reported in previous years. It had a $2.3-million budget deficit in 2008-09, which increased to $4.1 million in 2009-10. Last year, MAHC reported a small surplus of $49,189.
Board chair Sven Miglin said that factors such as a $6-million increase provided by the province to the organization’s base operating funding over the last two years, along with the impact of an operation audit and deficit recovery plan, has helped
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the health-care provider in realizing a budget surplus.
“The plan identified items that could be changed, items that we could have savings on and it has taken us this long to implement some of the actions. I believe everything, or close to everything, from that audit has been implemented and savings have resulted,” he said.
The organization conducted the operational audit and deficit recovery plan in order to secure the funding increase over two years.
Miglin said the agency has not relied just on the provincial funding and the impact of the recovery plan for its surplus.
“We have looked for other ways to operate more effectively because in theory, the (provincial) funding should have given us a balanced budget,” he said.
“We weren’t going to rest with just a balanced budget. We want to decrease our expenditures as much as possible without having an impact on our delivery of services.”
The funding has helped the organization address a long-standing working capital deficit, which is around $7 million, according to chief financial officer Tim Smith.?
The CFO was quick to point out that the $269,982 is not set in stone. Auditors are expected in this week to review the financial statements, and Smith said that not all departments have finalized their year-end figures.
One unforeseen factor in contributing to the surplus was $130,205.79 in net savings the organization received from its short-term disability costs.
That figure, according to Smith, was not factored into the 2011-2012 budget.
“Any reduction in sick pay can only have an impact on our bottom line. It is also the staff working extra hard to make sure we are efficient.”
He said the surplus will be used to pay down the working capital deficit, which had been as much as $11 million in 2011, but was reduced due to the funding increase from the province.
Both Miglin and Smith are confident that MAHC will be able to present a balanced budget for the present fiscal year.
“We will have a balanced budget for the year we just commenced,” said Miglin. “We are just waiting for (the province) to release what funding we are going to get. That will be in the public domain soon and from that we will have a balanced budget, that is realistic and achievable.”
- With files from Alison Brownlee