HUNTSVILLE – It’s the halfway point in the Town of Huntsville’s financial year and overall the budget is about $200,000 in the red.
But Coun. Chris Zanetti, chair of the corporate service committee, said despite some minor issues many of the town’s departments are on budget.
“And the ones that aren’t are reviewing their departments and working on plans to rectify any shortages,” said Zanetti.
He pointed to the community services department and noted user fees are down. According to the budget reports, sales and programs for that department are down about $100,000.
Zanetti said staff presented a variety of reasons user fees were down, including people not using the facilities and choosing less expensive family activities.
However, he said he did not have any major concerns.
“The few things that were maybe a bit out of line were seasonally adjusted, which happens every year, like community services – a lot of the arena rental comes in the fall so the revenue is down a little bit (in these reports),” he said. “But for the most part things are looking good.”
But at a council meeting on Sept. 18 Coun. Karin Terziano pointed out that overall the town was about $245,000 over budget halfway through the year. She asked what staff was doing to compensate for that.
Kelly Pender, chief administrative officer, said staff is reviewing discretionary spending and looking for places to cut back.
Pender noted the town was running at less than two per cent over budget.
“We hope to be able to reduce that number before year-end,” he said.
Pender told the Huntsville Forester that discretionary spending is related to expenses that don’t necessarily need to be incurred this year and used reduction in paper towel at the Canada Summit Centre as a hypothetical scenario. He said nothing major is on the chopping block as of yet.
He said the overage was due largely to revenue shortfalls.
“Revenue is largely a guess,” he said. “How many people are going to have a marriage? How many will pay $25 for a marriage license? How many will sign up for swimming lessons? We can look back on the last five years and guess.”
Although the town is now projecting a deficit for the end of the year, Pender said that is not necessarily how the year-end financials will look. Like Zanetti, Pender spoke about the seasonality of Huntsville’s expenses and revenue, which puts the year-end projections in another best-guess situation.
“If there is anything we can do to make (the deficit) right before the end of the year, we will,” said Pender.
Mayor Doughty added that staff’s focus should be on increasing revenue as well.