The Town of Sackville appears to be in sound financial shape according to the independent auditing firm Stevenson and Partners.
Auditor Andrew Boudreau told councillors at Monday’s meeting that the town’s revenues were above expectations in 2016 while expenses were below what was budgeted.
He said that as of December 31, the town had recorded a surplus of $787,359.
The full audit will not be released until council formally accepts it at its meeting next week, but Boudreau and Treasurer Michael Beal did give a general overview.
Here are some highlights:
- The town had $1,547,000 in cash on hand on December 31 compared to $583,000 in 2015. Boudreau described it as “a nice healthy increase in your cash balance this year.”
- The surplus of $787,359 included surpluses in the general operating fund ($64,316) and in the water and sewer operating fund ($21,083).
- The town paid down its long-term debt in 2016 by $1,424,000. Total long-term debt on December 31 was $14,777,000. Boudreau noted that the town is well within the debt limits required by the province.
- The reserve funds that the town uses to help finance bigger projects totalled $1,263,894 on December 31, an increase over the $1,066,730 total recorded in 2015. The reserves included $97,000 in the general operating account; $1,065,000 in general capital; $101,000 in utilities including water and sewer. Treasurer Beal noted that the general capital reserve will be depleted by the Lorne Street reconstruction project, “so we will have to look at replenishing that.” He added that the utilities reserve had increased by about $40,000 and that the town would continue to build that fund to finance future upgrades to the sewage lagoons.
Update on town tricycle
Also during Monday’s council meeting, town recreation manager Matt Pryde said he’d be seeking approval next week to purchase a $10,800 motorized tricycle from a firm in Denmark.
The “trishaw” would be used to give rides to elderly or disabled people. Council discussed purchasing it in April, but Pryde said the project got delayed after Copenhagen Cycles, which sells the machine, wanted full payment in advance before it would agree to ship it.
Now, the company and the town have agreed to a $5,000 advance payment subject to town council approval.
Pryde said the the trishaw would be paid for partly by using a $3,700 special needs donation that has been listed as an asset on the town’s books for more than 25 years. The rest of the money would come from various sources including $2,200 from the Sackville Hospital Foundation, $1,500 from the Sackville Rotary Club, $600 from the Drew Nursing Home and a provincial physical activity grant that the town will apply for.
Deputy Mayor Joyce O’Neil said she would worry about safety.
“To me, it’s scary to think of this being out on the road,” she said, “because it’s going to be wider than a regular bike.”
When O’Neil asked if the tricycle would be used only on sidewalks, Pryde replied that the law requires such vehicles to operate on the road, but that it may be restricted to pre-determined routes such as on wider side streets and the rail trail in the Waterfowl Park.
“I could see it being a super ride, leaving the Drew and going down…into the Waterfowl Park and using the trail,” O’Neil said, “but when I think of downtown…I don’t know if I’d want to be in it.”
Our ‘cautious’ world
Councillor Andrew Black suggested that he sees such safety concerns as part of the “overly cautious world that we live in.”
He said that when he was young, everybody had bikes and there were full bike racks all over town.
“Now you just don’t see it anymore,” Black added. “People aren’t used to driving around bicycles anymore at all. They find it a nuisance and a problem on the street.”
He went on to say he strongly supports buying the tricycle and that letting the town know about it may inspire other people to get out on their bikes.
“We have a small town that could have tonnes of people out biking around from Point A to Point B very easily and I just hope that that happens,” Black said.