Councillor wants city to put millions from budget surplus into 'rainy day' fund

The responsible thing to do with unspent millions from the city's 2016 operating budget would be to put the money into the financial stabilization reserve, or  "rainy day" fund, says Coun. Michael Walters.

A relatively mild winter with little snow contributed to a $64.3-million surplus in the operating budget. The savings in snow and ice removal were about $26 million.

"The variables in snow from year to year make it hard to plan, and that's why we have the FSR, in large part," Walters said Monday. "We need to make sure it's healthy. So that's my priority here. I think it's just the responsible thing to do."

The savings in snow removal in one year should automatically go into the reserve to deal with the possibility of more snow the next year, Walters said.

"It's interesting to have this conversation this week, when we see a bunch of snow," he said.

Council debate 

The city budgets on a calendar year, from January to December. The budget numbers are included in the year-end financial statement, which will be discussed by city council on Tuesday.

According to the report, the $64 million surplus will go directly into the financial stabilization reserve, with some money then re-allocated.

The report recommends that $13.6 million go to complete projects that were approved in 2016.

Council has also said $3.5 million should go to affordable housing.

Other councillors may recommend funding projects that were passed over during budget discussions.

"We always are open to those conversations," Walters said. "But I think our priority should be, in my opinion, the reserve."