Red ink shadow looms over District Services Board budget deliberations

ESPANOLA – The 2019 second quarter budget report (unaudited) projects a year-end municipal deficit of $302,947, even though the Ontario Works line item is forecast to be under budget by $19,200, social housing is expected to come in $220,003 under budget and children’s services is anticipated to be right on the money—while interest revenue on on-reserve accounts is forecast to be $88,743 into the black. 

According to DSB CAO Fern Dominelli, the budget line culprits can be traced to paramedic services which are projected to be $630,883 over budget. The line items for the unorganized townships, TUOMO, that are administered by the DSB are also anticipated to be in a deficit position.

The DSB began its budget deliberations at a budget meeting that was slated for October 9.

“So will that $600,000 deficit be added to our bill?” asked Killarney representative Jim Rook.

“We do have a reserve of $500,000,” noted Mr. Dominelli. “So we have just over half a million dollars we can use to draw down on that.”

Mr. Dominelli explained that any addition to the municipal bill would have to take place in the 2019 budget, not for 2020.

On the bright side, changes to the way the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) calculates the DSB contribution means a significant reduction will be in the works. “They have taken the last three years of what we paid in premium and NEAR (new experimental experience rating, a program where organizations can earn refunds or surcharges based on their individual accident performance),” said Mr. Dominelli. “That will mean something in the range of $100,000 a year in premiums instead of $700,000.”

Mr. Dominelli noted that a recent announcement by the province that they were freezing WSIB rates for non-profits did not include municipalities, although technically the DSB is a non-profit, leaving some confusion as to whether there will be an impact on the DSB budget.