July 16, 2014

Town of Erin maintaining healthy balance sheet

As published in The Erin Advocate

The Town of Erin got the stamp of approval from its independent auditor last week, with councillors receiving financial statements for 2013 that show a small deficit for operations, an increase in financial assets, a declining debt and capital assets totalling just over $50 million.

Financial assets totalled $7.2 million (M), with increases in taxes receivable ($2.9 M) and accounts receivable ($1 M). Investments were down by almost $1.5M, but most of that has been transferred to cash, which is at $2M.

Mayor Lou Maieron said it was “not a good sign” that penalties and interest on unpaid taxes were up by 7.5% to $354,000, suggesting people are having difficulty affording the taxes. Finance Director Sharon Marshall, however, said outstanding taxes remain in normal proportion to total tax revenue.

Various changes have affected Town finances, including reduced tax assessments for aggregate pits, which have placed a higher burden on residential taxpayers. Revenue from Ontario Grants continues to decline despite higher costs, and fewer building permits has cut into Other Income.

Fees and user charges accounted for $2.1M of revenue, while taxes brought in $5.6M. Major items on the expense side included $1.5 M for Administration, $1.1M for Protection (Fire), $3.9M for Transportation (Roads), $1.2 for Environmental Services and $1.6M for Recreation.

The operating deficit of $186,000 represents 1.9% of the total expenditures, which were $9.8 million. Long term debt, much of which is related to the new fire hall, stood at $2.9M – down from $3.2 at the end of 2012.

A separate statement for the Erin village Business Improvement Area (BIA) showed revenues of $42,000, including a Town grant of $6,500, special area taxation of $17,200 and withdrawal from reserves of $9,700. The BIA spent $23,000 on advertising and $30,000 on streetscape improvements.

The full set of statements from Chartered Accountants Robinson Lott & Brohman LLP of Fergus is available on the Town website, www.erin.ca, or on paper by request.