Despite having to throw over $1.7 million at the town’s Civic Centre building, Ponoka’s top administrator is confident there is enough funding available for this year’s capital projects.
“Much of the reserve money used to fund the tenant improvements was intended for capital spending,” noted CAO Albert Flootman in an email.
“There were some non-capital, non-restricted reserves used as well, which are also typically used to fund capital projects.”
Any of the 2019 projects — that were to paid out of these reserves — will instead be funded through the town’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) money that was initially going to pay for the improvements.
However, the province is currently holding onto that money as a consequence of council’s motion late last year to hold back the education portion of the town’s property taxes.
“Once this funding issue has been resolved, the grant funding in the town’s annual MSI allocation account is expected to flow again and be available for future capital projects,” Flootman stated.
There was no indication if 2019 capital projects are affected by the draw down of the reserve funds or the provincial restrictions on grants.
Council indicated during its meetings on Jan. 22 and Feb. 12 that it won’t budge on the issue. There could be more consequences to the town if the first payment, due March 31, is missed. That could include launching an investigation into the operations of the town, removing the CAO and appointing an administrator or all the way up to dismissing both council and the CAO.
In the meantime, Flootman noted that work is being done to finalize the 2019 budget as well as complete the audit for 2018. That work includes determining the amounts of each reserve account and what to do with any possible budget surplus from last year.
“The process of replenishing town reserves often happens during budget deliberations when end-of-year surpluses are identified and allocated by council.”
It is anticipated that the 2018 audit report as well as the 2019 budget will be presented to council in April.
Typically, MSI funding is allocated annually to municipalities and carries over into following years if it isn’t used right away.