Conservation efforts at the Woolwich Memorial Centre are paying off, lowering utility costs as the township tries to get its recreation budget back on track.
Large cost overruns last year has council keeping a close eye on the department, including regular financial statements such as the one tabled at Tuesday night’s meeting. Although over budget in some areas, such as part-time salaries at the WMC, the department’s overall budget is on target for the year, said director of finance Richard Petherick.
New lights, work on the compressors and other energy-saving tactics have lowered expenses at the WMC, with electricity consumption down more than 15 per cent and gas usage by more than 20 per cent.
In response to a question from Coun. Bonnie Bryant, Petherick noted expenditures are on track, with revenues set to pick up as the ice-rental season gets into full gear.
The scrutiny followed a troubling financial report for 2010, as the department exceeded its budget by $550,000, or 14.6 per cent, largely due to higher-than-expected costs at the new multi-use facility in Elmira.
Both salaries and utilities were major factors in the budget deviations.
Part-time salaries, for instance, were off by more than 300 per cent: budgeted at $30,000, the actual cost was $101,000. Likewise in staffing the concession stand, $38,000 became $56,000. Utilities proved much more expensive than expected, with electrical bills ringing in at $252,000 instead of the $180,000 in the budget. For heating, the numbers were $67,000 and $42,000 respectively.
Former director of recreation and facilities Larry Devitt, who retired last week, attributed the budgetary problems to low initial estimates on costs, unbudgeted items such as service contracts on equipment, and extra staffing due to sick leave and other personnel issues.
“There are still some outstanding issues – expenses are still over budget in some areas – but we’re looking at the bottom line,” said Petherick, noting he’s satisfied with the overall number.
The extra attention to the recreation department will ensure there won’t be a repeat of 2010’s
issues, he added.
“This isn’t going to happen again.”