Big money numbers as DTSSAB decides 2023 budget

Darlene Wroe

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

DISTRICT – DTSSAB’s director of finance Janice Loranger presented the board’s draft 2023 budget of $40,135,287 at its February 15 meeting in Evanturel Township.

"This is a $1 million increase from last year," said Loranger, and is a 2.86 per cent increase from the 2022 budget.

The District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board (DTSSAB) is in the process of reviewing its annual budget and debating whether it should withdraw money from its working fund reserves to offset the levy to the municipalities.

Since 2008 the municipalities, which are represented on DTSSAB, have requested a portion of money be withdrawn from the board’s working fund reserves to be used in the budget instead of being billed to the municipalities.

That question is being reviewed once more, but it seems there will be at least a majority approval to withdraw $102,000 from the working fund reserves to be placed into the budget and offset levies to the municipalities.

However, much of the budget increase is being funded by provincial funding for the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Program, and with the Homelessness Prevention Program.

There is a decrease in the budget for the Ontario Works program because there has been a decrease in the budgeted caseloads for the program, explained Loranger.

Unspent reserve amounts of $257,000 are being carried over to 2023, she said.

The federal and provincial funding for the 2023 budget is approximately $31 million, she stated.

In 2023, the municipal share of the budget would increase by $80,000, an increase of 1.17 per cent.

However, $200,000 was taken from its working fund reserve last year, which was used to offset the municipal levies.

"When we compare to the net billing in the prior year, this would then mean an increase of $238,000 for the municipalities, or a 3.54 per cent increase," she later explained in an email.

An option B presented was to take $102,000 out of the working fund reserve for this year, reducing the 3.54 per cent figure to 2.35 per cent (or $158,180), said Loranger.

The board will be making a decision on the question at their March 22 meeting.

The working fund reserve is where all surpluses from the year-end are placed or, if there is a deficit, withdrawn out of, Loranger explained at the meeting.

There are also separate reserves for the Emergency Medical Services, the housing services, the children's services, health benefits, and information technology.

At the end of 2021 there was $6,072,542 in the working fund reserve, she said.

Along with the $200,000 withdrawn to offset the municipal share in 2022, $397,000 has been withdrawn to offset the renovations for the Kirkland Lake DTSSAB office building.

"We have to do a finalized analysis of that project to determine if $397,000 will cover it or not," she said.

At the end of 2022, there was $5.4 million in DTSSAB's working fund reserve, she stated.

"The board does have a policy that we're to maintain a one-month minimum and two-month maximum" in the working fund reserve, she advised. That is a range between $3.3-$6.6 million.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker