South Stormont had ‘excellent’ 2018, auditor says

(Newswatch Group/File)

LONG SAULT – The auditors hired to look over South Stormont’s books say the municipality had an “excellent year” in 2018 with a slight surplus.

It finished last year with a operating surplus of $676,069, Jamie Pollock from accounting firm MNP told council last week, mainly due to higher water and sewer billings and better than expected interest on bank balances. With water and sewer added in, the surplus jumps to $1.6 million on the nearly $60 million budget.

“So you had a really great year in your municipal financial affairs,” Pollock said.

Assets grew by 1.6 per cent while its liabilities dropped by 5.6 per cent.

South Stormont’s entire surplus, including assets like land, buildings and infrastructure, was $59.8 million in 2018 compared to $57.8 million in 2017 – an increase of 3.4 per cent.

As for the health of that infrastructure, Pollock said replacement of assets is outpacing depreciation of those assets. There was $3.6 million added last year while assets lost about $2.6 million in value.

While Pollock said South Stormont had a “very good year” and the financial health was “very strong,” there are some things that can be worked on.

He said the township should establish a policy for reserve funds and set levels for those funds to deal with major projects in the future. Pollock also said there should be a rate stabilization reserve to deal with unforeseen fluctuations in tax revenue such as property assessment appeals and it should also have a landfill closure reserve.

He also said an investment policy should be updated. The municipality had about $8 million in “excess cash” and Pollock said it should be invested to get more income.