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Mornville ends 2008 well into the black

Morinville's financial numbers for last year show the town is deep in the black, with little debt and lots of cash in the bank. The town ended 2008 with a surplus of $425,521, which comes on top of the more than $1.

Morinville's financial numbers for last year show the town is deep in the black, with little debt and lots of cash in the bank.

The town ended 2008 with a surplus of $425,521, which comes on top of the more than $1.6 million the town budgeted for its reserve accounts.

The $425,521 will also be added to the town's reserves, bringing them to slightly more than $5 million — money that's designated for a variety of future projects.

The surplus represents the equivalent of about four per cent of the town's $10-million budget.

Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said he is very pleased with the town's books.

"We are in tremendous financial shape right now and the sustainability of this community is largely based on the work we have done over the past number of years."

The town has slightly more than $1 million in debt — well within the $18-million, provincially imposed debt limit.

Bertschi said the $425,251 is a pleasant surprise, but one the town couldn't have realistically planned for because it came from land sales and supplemental taxes.

"Going into the year you never know whether you are going to be selling any assets and the supplemental taxes are dependent on how many houses are constructed."

Bertschi said when he first became mayor the town had virtually no reserves and council made it a priority to save money for future projects.

He said the town should be in a good position to pay for those projects when the time comes.

"We are a long ways away from having the reserve position that we need, but I am confident by that point in time we will have it."

Bertschi hopes future councils will stick to the plan, but concedes it could go off the rails.

"You can do the right thing for 20 years in a municipality and one mayor and council can destroy it all with the stroke of a pen."

The town saw a $92,000 drop in development fees in 2008 as permits ground to a halt. Bertschi said the number wasn't a surprise given the dramatic drop in development.

"The last two years in a row we averaged over 300 starts per year and last year was around 80."

Salaries up

The audited financial statements show a rise in council salaries last year as well. Combined with benefits and allowances, Bertschi took in $42,045, up from $32,351 in 2007. Coun. Joe Gosselin rose to $26,144 from $14,581, Coun. Donna Phinney went to $20,459 from $15,805 and Coun. Paul Krauskopf collected $19,104 — a boost from $13,212.

Three rookie councillors who only served on council for about two months in 2007 made much less: Coun. Joe Trapani's salary was $26,824, Coun. Gordon Boddez reaped $22,887 and Coun. Ben Van De Walle pulled in $19,988.