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General reserve fund could be depleted by end of year, says Williams Lake chief financial officer

The City of Williams Lake is slowly depleting its general reserve fund.

Chief financial officer Vitali Kozubenko said he estimates that it will be depleted by the end of this year.

Mayor Walt Cobb said he does not believe it to be a concern.

“If all of our projects come in then we would look at probably having no funds left in our surplus accounts or our reserve accounts,” Cobb said. “But the decision would then be made okay what do we do. Do we go and borrow some money now to get these jobs done depending on how important the jobs are, or do we decide to hold them off for another year?”

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A report presented to Council indicated at this past Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting that the City was unsuccessful in obtaining grant funding from the FCM Green Municipal fund to cost-share Phase 6 of the River Valley Stormwater Management project. In order to proceed with the final phase, $73,440 will have to be allocated from the general reserve.

Also at risk of being depleted is the City’s water reserve fund.

Although the City has applied to the federal government for funding to build an $18 million water treatment plant, at least $5 million will have to come from the City which Kozubenko said will likely take care of the reserves which they currently have for water.

A zero percent tax increase is still being targetted for 2020.

Kozubenko said the City is planning to implement $14.2 million in capital projects, $3.9 million of which will be for roads.

“I don’t necessarily agree with having a tax increase just to build up surpluses,” Cobb said. “I think we need to build up surpluses through savings and other ways.”

Kozubenko said if there is no desire to increase the taxation, the City could borrow to implement the significant capital projects and then pay over time instead of paying from the reserve.

“I’m feeling that we’re doing quite better than before. So we’re applying for more grants, we’re getting more money to implement what we want to do in the City so I’m feeling quite good about it,” Kozubenko said noting the City did not previously have a corporate engagement officer.

“We’re planning to apply for $5.9 million in grants this year but how successful we will be unfortunately I don’t know yet.”

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