Legacy Fund $ 2 Million Loan “Paid Back”
The 2020 pandemic year has been a crazy roller coaster ride for Norfolk County and its finances.
But in the end, the community had its strongest financial performance in many years.
Backed in part by generous federal and provincial grants, the Norfolk Council heard this week that the county’s 2020 surplus totaled $ 10.65 million.
The council has decided that the surplus will be allocated to priority projects that were not completed last year to bolster depleted reserve accounts and repay the $ 2 million the council borrowed from the $ 70 million Legacy Fund earlier this year.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Charlotteville Coun. Chris VanPaassen reminded colleagues that the Legacy Fund borrowing issue kept the council preoccupied for nearly two days of the county’s budget deliberations in January 2021.
The council relented when CAO Jason Burgess told members that a significant budget surplus was likely in 2020 and that the $ 2 million wildcard would be needed to help the county meet its obligation under provincial law to maintain a balanced budget to approve.
“It is done,” said VanPaassen. “It’s from the books. The Legacy Fund is the Legacy Fund again and the public no longer needs to worry about it. “
In accounting circles, Burgess said the process just completed meant the loan transaction was “fully papered”.
“We borrowed money that we never really took and paid back money that we never really took,” he said. “It was all on paper. We never really needed to withdraw funds. “
Burgess congratulated staff and council for sticking together in a difficult year to keep the community solvent. The surplus looks big, he said, but subtract the millions of dollars Ottawa and Queen’s Park provided emergency relief during the pandemic, and the surplus is actually quite modest.
Langton Area Council. Linda Vandendriessche said Norfolk County needs to provide credit where credit is due.
“The big issue here is thank God for the federal government and thank God for the province,” she said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be as pretty as we are.”
The Norfolk Audited Declaration for 2020 was prepared by Millards of Simcoe. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Council accepted staff recommendations for allocating the surplus. These include:
- $ 3 million for the Norfolk Emergency Reserve, which has been reduced to near zero over the years.
- $ 450,375 of the surplus has been withdrawn from the library budget and will be allocated to the library reserve fund.
- An additional $ 3.2 million will be allocated to the county’s building reserve account to accommodate repairs and upgrades to Norfolk’s facilities.
The following projects are funded immediately:
- $ 150,000 for document digitization.
- US $ 575,000 to advise and rehabilitate a poison gas well in the Silver Hill area.
- $ 75,000 for tourism re-branding.
- $ 75,000 for a noise barrier at Tricenturena in Waterford.
A surplus of US $ 1.1 million in the tariff-supported water budget is allocated to a water capital replacement account. A surplus of US $ 560,000 in the tariff-supported wastewater budget is transferred to a wastewater reserve account.
The financial report states that Norfolk’s net financial position at the end of 2020 was $ 7.7 million. This compares with a deficit of 19.4 million US dollars at the end of 2019.
“While the 2020 financial results showed a significant improvement over 2019, it is important that Norfolk County continue its efforts to build a solid and sustainable financial foundation,” said Assistant Treasurer Amy Fanning in her report. “The amount of outstanding and forecast debts and the depletion of the reserve fund are of particular concern.”