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Town of Banff projects $300,000 surplus

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to big revenue hits for the Fenlands recreation centre and parking and traffic fines.
Banff Town Hall 2
Banff Town Hall

BANFF – The Town of Banff is projecting to be in the black to the tune of just under $300,000 by year-end despite some big hits in revenue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the third-quarter financial statements presented to Banff town council on Nov. 8, there is an overall forecasted unrestricted surplus of $297,522 based on the 2021 amended budget.

Andrea Stuart, the Town of Banff’s finance manager, said a large amount of expenditure, revenues, programming and projects occur during the busy summer months, which are part of the third-quarter period ending Sept. 30.

“There were a few large variances identified in the third quarter, although a number of them have offsetting revenues and expenses,” she said.

For 2021, the previous council had asked administration to find $250,000 in savings from wages and benefits over and above the approved budget; however, administration is predicting it will have cut $371,380 in wages and benefits by the end of the year.

“As of Q3, we hit the $250,000 wages and benefits target and we’ve actually exceeded it,” said Stuart. “We’ve actually found an additional $121,000 of wage and benefits savings.”

One of the big revenue hits this year was in parking and traffic fines from police and municipal enforcement.

Fine revenue was forecast at $960,000, but is coming in $563,000 below budget – $333,000 below budget for municipal enforcement and $230,000 below projected police revenue.

Stuart said this is primarily due to significantly less vehicle traffic during the third wave of COVID-19 earlier this year.

She said that’s coupled with a noticeable drop in infractions, a reduced focus on traffic ticketing due to COVID priorities, and the lack of court dates in January through June 2021.

Stuart said the lower fine revenue has been partially offset by a reduction to the transfer to capital reserve and by a reduction in wages and benefit, which included a loss of one CP01 officer in May who wasn’t replaced until October.

She said 70 per cent of fine revenue collected through the Town of Banff’s municipal enforcement department goes into capital reserves.

“When we do see a reduction in the actual revenue amounts, we just reduce the amount transferred to reserve by the same amount, so there’s no tax impact on that reduction,” she said.

“However, on the policing side, that’s not the case. Any reduction in policing grant revenue does go through and hits the bottom line from a tax perspective.”

The Town of Banff also took a big revenue hit at the Fenlands recreation centre, with ice rental revenue coming in $214,000 below the $375,000 budget.

“We haven’t been able to respond as quickly as we’d hoped when we budgeted for this last year,” said Stuart.

“Obviously, no one had a crystal ball last year when we were entering budget. We weren’t sure how long COVID would last.”

Room rentals at the Fenlands are down $27,000 from the budgeted revenue of $43,000.

Stuart said the loss of revenue associated with the Fenlands has been fully offset by decreases in wages, other expenses as well as utility savings.

“We do see some savings on electricity and gas not having the ice in as long as we had thought,” she said.

“We’re able to offset these losses in revenues by decreases in expenses.”