City sits on solid financial ground

Debt, surplus and costs were discussed at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting as city staff presented the 2010 Annual Report.

Debt, surplus and costs were discussed at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting as city staff presented the 2010 Annual Report.

Colin McClure, the city’s chief financial officer, presented the report which includes financial statements, a message from Mayor John Dooley and reviews the past year’s operating costs.

“I do note that the city has continued, at least in the financial statement side of things, to have a really aggressive capital program where we put $8.5 million in to capital in 2010,” said McClure. “It’s all trying to invest in the infrastructure like roads, water, hydro, sewer and all of those kids of things  that we see going on.”

In Dooley’s message he said, “We invested almost $8 million in capital in 2010. This includes $4.8 million on our utilities (water, sewer and hydro,) $1.2 million on roads, sidewalks bridges and storm, $1.3 million on equipment, vehicles, technology and buildings and finally $650,000 on parks.”

McClure also talked about the important role that Nelson Hydro plays in the city’s finances.

According the report the largest portion of the city’s operating revenue comes from Nelson Hydro at $12,870,132, the second largest amount comes from taxes at $7,600,855.

Another interesting part of the report that McClure identified was, 68 per cent of Nelson’s tax income comes from residents and 25 per cent comes from businesses.

With regards to the city’s long term debt, McClure said the lease agreements with Selkirk College for buildings like Mary’s Hall are important in helping cover debt.

“Overall when you look at the debt that we have, sometimes it looks large but also $12 million of that debt is being repaid by Fortis and Selkirk College through either lease hold improvements or and arrangement we had on the gas system,” he said.

There is a total of $18,324,000 of debt, and $4,427,000 of that is covered by the Selkirk leases.

Gas franchise leases with Fortis BC cover an additional $7,454,000 of the debt.

The report also identified several of the city’s strategic objectives for 2010 to 2012. The objectives included the sustainability plan, transportation, climate change, the Waterfront Masterplan, housing, and regional planning services.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting transit supporters questioned how transit cuts aligned with the city’s sustainability and climate change plans.

City manager Kevin Cormack said that as part of one of the strategic objectives, the city approved the Active Transportation Plan in 2010 which includes a number of areas besides transit such as the use of the car co-op, walking and cycling.