Having spent some of its reserves on infrastructure projects to take advantage of stimulus funding, Wellesley remains in good shape, with savings outstripping debt by a three-to-one margin, say the auditors of the township’s books.
“We are in a really strong position we have surplus of about $10 million versus a debt of $3 million,” Peter Graham told councillors meeting June 21, presenting an auditor’s report with a clean bill of health.
The only negative, said the accountant with Graham Mathew and Partners, was that last year the surplus to debt ratio was four times. But having received considerable funding from the provincial and federal governments – typically a three-way split between each party – the money was earmarked for pressing projects.
“The township built up the reserves for the last several years until 2008,” said Graham. “Then when they knew the [stimulus] program was coming on board they used those funds to help fund their share of the program to the point where they have spent $8.5 million on capital assets in the past two years, all to the benefit of the taxpayers of the township.”
Graham said the good news is that the township did not borrow any money to do any of the capital additions, but quickly added it was time for council to think about building up the reserves again.
“There is always more to spend on as things break and wear out across the township I think it is time to set some sort of a plan over the next five to seven years.”
Coun. Jim Olender said the spending was a good investment on behalf of the township.
“We were in such a good financial situation we were able to take full advantage of the government stimulus program with out putting ourselves in debt at all like other municipalities had to do,” he said.
Graham agreed with Olender, saying municipalities should have tried to get as much as they could out of the stimulus program without overreaching.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn said it was his plan to increase the reserves this year unfortunately that was not possible because the township had less money to put into the reserves than last year.
“We either have to hold expenditures or we have to work more prudently to build up our reserves,” said Kelterborn. “The message needs to go out loud and clear that we need to rebuild our reserves and when we do our budget for this year I am hoping that will be one of our major objectives. I don’t expect this would be done next year – it will take some time.”