County financial consultant offers his two cents

0
61

The County’s hired bean counter has found the municipality’s reserves are the lowest when compared to 10 other similar municipalities.

At just $322.44 per household, it ranked well below top-runner Dufferin, with $1,248.74 and even quite a bit below number 10, Middlesex, at $425.84.

Oscar Poloni of KPMG told councillors and staff at their May 25 meeting they should consider a policy for reserves along with an appropriate funding strategy.

He also advised the County to continue to pursue operating and capital grants since it has the lowest percentage of the comparators, however he offered the proviso it may reflect the nature of its services compared to other municipalities.

Haliburton County’s operating grants as a percentage of total revenue were just 20.8 per cent, compared to leader Hastings, at 56.9 per cent. Capital grants as a percentage of capital additions were last at 6.1 per cent, compared to top gun, Frontenac, at 96.9 per cent.

The County also has debt in the mid-range of the comparator municipalities. Its longterm debt per household is $206.03, ranking fifth. By contrast, Hastings had $1,201.15 and Huron no debt.

When it comes to taxes, the County is at the lower end of the range but the figures do reflect upper-tier taxation only. Residential taxes per household in the County are $746.41, putting it in ninth place. At the upper end is Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry at $2,105.94 while the lowest was Frontenac at $390.15. Haliburton County’s residential tax rate of 0.26 per cent was second last.

When it comes to affordability, Poloni suggested the County consider developing a long-term financial plan that appropriately balances taxation, grants, user fees and debt financing, as well as measures to address concerns over affordability, “particularly given the potential divide between seasonal and year-round residents.”

Poloni said another challenge is the books show “a higher degree of aging and potentially significant infrastructure deficit” going forward, requiring incorporating the results of an upcoming asset management plan into long-term financial planning and strategy development.

During the meeting, Poloni also offered a clean audit opinion for the books as of Dec. 31, 2021