City of Grand Forks forecasts $1.35 million deficit

Grand Forks city council gave final reading of its five-year financial plan (2011 to 2015) at a recent council meeting.

According to the city, total revenue for 2011 is projected to be about $9.8 million, total operating expenses at around $11.2 million, including amortization ($1.5 million), which would see Grand Forks operating at a deficit of about $1.35 million for the year.

The total operating expense for Grand Forks in 2011 is expected to total approximately $6.7 million with about $4.1 million in the form of general expenses (roads, parks, buildings, flowers etc.), $690,200 for running the water utility, $694,800 for the sewer utility, $783,800 for running the electrical utility, $540,000 in studies and planning and a $156,850 net recovery for equipment.

“The city has a fleet of equipment that charges out to the jobs in other funds (general, water, sewer and electrical) as the work is performed,” explained City Chief Financial Officer Cecile Arnott.

“The charge-out rates are calculated mostly according to blue book rates. The charge-out rates, net of the costs of operating the equipment, result in recoveries. The aim is to fund the equipment from these recoveries.”

It is projected to cost the city $63,000 this year to purchase fuel for resale at the airport.

Fees and charges are expected to be the city’s biggest source of revenue in 2011, putting about $4 million (this includes around $3.9 million in gross electrical sales/fees) into city coffers – 40.6 per cent of this year’s total revenue – followed by property taxes, grants in lieu and franchise fees, which will generate some $2.5 million for the city (25.5 per cent of 2011 total revenue).

According to Arnott, grants in lieu are received for federal and provincial property, for which the city doesn’t tax.

“We receive a grant in lieu from the federal and provincial governments instead of property tax,” she said.

Parcel taxes, for land and improvements, will generate the smallest amount of revenue in 2011 and are expected to bring in $286,300, 2.9 per cent of 2011 total revenue.

Revenue generated from electrical, water, and sewage use is expected to bring in about $3.9 million, $719,500 and $856,000 respectively in 2011.

Arnott said that the total projected revenue requirement in the electrical fund is based on the projected cost of purchasing power from Fortis BC plus the cost of running the utility.

The water and sewer user fees is the projected revenue required to operate the utilities.

“We project what it will cost to run the water and sewer utility and we say we need to get this much back in user fees in order to be able to run the utility,” she explained.

Total capital expenditures for 2011 are calculated at around $2.6 million with general expenditures expected to amount to about $1.8 million, electrical expenditures $90,000, equipment expenditures $339,000 and water and sewer expenditures at $170,000 each.

The city will also pay some $271,800 of debt interest in 2011 – $125,300 of that general, $7,800 for water, $104,800 for sewer and $33,900 for equipment.

The City of Grand Forks will receive the revised assessment roll for 2011 in April and will set property tax rates based on that before May 15 and the city said the distribution of property tax rates will be made known at that time.