Alberni’s surplus accounted for

The city has $10.2 million parked in its reserve accounts, a report from city finance director Cathy Rothwell noted.

City councillors requested the report on the status of city reserve funds at their April 11 meeting.

The statutory reserve fund has a balance of $8.1 million, while the unrestricted reserve fund has $2.1 million.

There is 17 per cent less money is reserve accounts this year than at this time last year, Rothwell noted in her report.

Two things account for the depletion.

“Not as much money was put into reserves as in previous years,” Rothwell said.

“And money has been earmarked for several large projects in 2011.”

Those projects include $$680,000 for two automated garbage pick up trucks, $500,000 for the Echo Centre HVAC system, as well as $227,000 for storm and sewer drain work.

Coun. Jack McLeman asked on Monday where the $3.3 million in the tax loss reserve fund went.

The amount is shown but not reflected in the final balance total, McLeman said.

The amount was included in the city’s 2010 budget, Rothwell said.

She undertook to produce a report on the issue, and did so on Wednesday.

A reserve fund was established to offset the $3.3 million in tax money Catalyst initially didn’t pay, Rothwell said.

To cover the subsequent funding shortfall the city transferred money from other accounts and borrowed from its line of credit.

Catalyst did pay later, however.

Following this development, the city re-stocked its operating reserve with $1.4 million, replenished the accounts it borrowed from with $1.7 million  and repaid its $880,000 loan.

The total accounts for the $3.3 million, Rothwell said.

Under the Community Charter, city council may, by bylaw, establish reserve funds for specific purposes.

Municipalities are mandatorily required by the community charter to have statutory reserve funds.

Unrestricted reserve accounts are funds that can be used as required by council.

Money in reserve funds – including interest – can only be expended by bylaw, and only for the purposes for which the fund was created.

Once tax rates are set the city budgets for a certain amount to go into reserves.

The city also sets aside $500,000 to cover unforeseen expenses, Rothwell said.

Reserve funds are similar to an emergency personal savings account.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the future,” Rothwell said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com