Morinville posts modest surplus

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Morinville managed to tuck away nearly $100,000 more than it planned in 2009, according to the town’s audited financial statements.

Despite a slightly rocky year, the town finished with $96,400 more than anticipated. The money was added to the town’s reserves, allowing it to store away almost $2 million into Morinville’s savings account.

Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said the town has been prudent and saved, while also keeping debt down.

“We are in good shape and we want to make sure that we continue to be in good shape.”

Compared to Morinville’s original 2009 budget, the town spent more on the new garbage program than they initially expected and had considerably higher expenses from a number of unexpected severance payments to former staff.

Morinville’s chief administrative officer and several other members of senior management left the town this year adding $430,000 to the general administration line item compared to 2008.

Bertschi said even though those staffing changes were expensive, Morinville is better off.

“The organization is in my view, considerably stronger than it was in the past and we have a top-flight administration now.”

With the turbulent economy, several municipalities have struggled to predict their investment income, but Morinville landed very close to budget.

Andy Isbister, director of corporate services, said the town is able to do this largely because the investments are in very stable places.

“We are very safe in what we invest. We leave all our money in cash investments, term deposits, savings accounts and that kind of thing.”

The town had $996,671 in debt at the end of 2009, but could add more to it this year. The planned cultural centre could add to that this year or in 2011. Council approved as much as $3 million in borrowing for the centre earlier this year, but Isbister said administration is hopeful they won’t have to rely on the full amount.

Under provincial regulations, the town has a debt limit of $19.5 million, which means even if the cultural centre borrowing was completely exhausted they would still have plenty of room to borrow.

The town also has reserves, which Bertschi said have greatly improved in the last few years.

“One of the things that was a goal when I became mayor was to get to a point where the town was on a more solid financial footing.”

The town’s overall budget was more than $13 million making the surplus a deviation of less than one percent.

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