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'Quite shocked': County reports $128K surplus in year-end report

'It’s as close to zero as I’d like to get without going under. It was a fantastic result in terms of that,' says county official
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The County of Simcoe ended 2023 with a bit of spare cash in its coffers, according to the year-end financial report presented to councillors.

“I was quite shocked at how we landed the plane this time basically on the postage stamp on an aircraft carrier,” Trevor Wilcox, the county’s general manager of corporate performance, said during Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting.

“We had an operating budget of over $500 million and a total operating surplus of only $128,000," he added. "It’s as close to zero as I’d like to get without going under. It was a fantastic result in terms of that.”

From an operating standpoint, the county ended the year with a “very slight deficit,” however a “bit of a surplus” in the operating balance counteracted that in capital, ultimately resulting in an overall surplus of $128,000, Wilcox explained to council.

The 56-page staff report outlined the county’s statement of operations, with a comparison to the 2023 budget, in addition to the balances for both the reserves and the financing requirements. 

The financial document contained highlights of some key performance indicators to supplement year-end financial reporting to allow for measuring, reporting and monitoring of progress to manage, maintain and improve business performance.

Overall, the 2023 year-end operating deficit was $67,000 — or 0.01 per cent of the county's $574-million operating expense budget — while the capital surplus was $195,000.

“The report is very thorough in terms of all of the technical areas where we’ve got pluses and minuses. A high-level look at a department view, we had a challenge in a couple of areas which we have seen along the way,” Wilcox explained, pointing to some overages related to unforeseen expenses with contract staff in long-term care.

“We did have some funding that came in to help offset that, but it didn’t totally offset it," he added. 

Wilcox also noted inflationary pressures that hit paramedic services drove that area over budget. Social housing felt a similar pinch. 

The county did see some positive outcomes as well, Wilcox said, such as in solid waste management. 

“We got some good news in terms of revenue that we got and there were costs that were lower than expected,” he said. “Other departments had small but contributing surpluses that added up and covered us for the rest.

“Overall, we had a great year. We covered what we needed to and had some good offsets for the areas where we had challenges," Wilcox added. "We are going to continue to monitor those to make sure they’re trending down.”

The $128,000 surplus will be allocated to the general contingency reserve.