Vibank council learned at its regular meeting Jan. 28 that the village’s finances at the end of 2020 were in good shape, with the ability to pull nearly $1 million from its reserves if a major catastrophic event arose in the near future.
“If it hit the fan, we could come up with almost a million dollars if we pulled everything out of everything,” village administrator Dagmar Crumley said.
Mayor Ryan Reiss was pleased to hear of the village’s financial position, and other councillors voiced their satisfaction as well.
“That’s good planning,” Coun. Don McCarron said.
Reiss said it was also the first time he can recall $100,000 being in the general reserve accounts. Municipalities are mandated by the province to have an assortment of reserve accounts to cover capital expenditures such as water and sewer, or other areas of village government deemed a priority.
McCarron asked whether the village is able to move some of those funds into investments such as mutual funds, in order to maximize the benefit to the village’s finances.
“Those funds are at risk if you invest them in mutual funds, so we aren’t allowed to,” Crumley responded.
Reiss confirmed GICs are an option because those investments are permitted by law.
Crumley suggested a meeting could be set up with financial advisors who deal specifically with municipal governments to find suitable investments.
“Either way, we are in real good shape and we have one year’s tax assessment in reserves,” Reiss said.
“Now we just need to be smart with it,” McCarron said.
The village’s finances will be audited on Feb. 17. This is an annual process to verify and ensure the finances are in good order.
“I certainly didn’t expect us to be in this good of shape at the end of 2020,” Reiss said.
Crumley explained that expenditures had been reduced over the past year and added that, while tax accounts in arrears were at 23 per cent at this point of the year, higher than a normal year, it remained manageable.
Council also discussed whether the village office would remain open should its chief administrative officer take her vacation and owed time. A decision was deferred to a later date.
The village’s daycare is looking at playground improvements, including an accessible play structure costing between $40,000 to $60,000. Fundraising efforts will be made by the daycare to fund this improvement. Crumley informed council she would be looking for grants the Village can apply for to assist with that fundraising effort.
The local library branch has asked the village to temporarily hold a recent $5,000 donation from CanPacific Potash as they hope to have a photo taken in the near future to acknowledge receipt of the funds.
A vote was taken by village council to determine which of the upcoming Municipalities of Saskatchewan annual general meeting resolutions Vibank’s delegates will support. One of four resolutions on the table for the convention, which wrapped up today, proposed the possibility of holding staggered municipal elections for the province’s urban municipalities.
Mirroring a practice already used by rural municipalities, this would ensure councillors serve four-year terms but with elections held every two years on a rotating basis to prevent an entire council from being replaced at once. Vibank council voted to support this measure.
BUDGET WORK BEGINS
Preliminary work has been done on the 2021 village budget and has been left with council to review prior to its budget meetings.
Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum