Dysart’s 2020 books given the all-clear by municipal auditor

By Mike Baker

Dysart et al’s ability to “quickly adapt to the COVID-19” pandemic last spring paid dividends in their 2020 year-end accounts according to the municipality’s auditor.

Thomas Turnbull, of Grant Thornton LLP, painted a rosy financial picture for council and township staff last Tuesday, June 22 when presenting Dysart’s audited financial statements.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2020, the municipality had a surplus of close to $606,000, after initially projecting a deficit of around $250,000.

“I think there needs to be a pat on the back for management and yourself as councillors for moving through the pandemic in the way that you did. There hasn’t been a significant impact to your [financial] statement at all,” Turnbull said. “For a municipality, as a larger organization, you’ve done quite a good job of switching gears – getting things more virtual, still offering programs, albeit not in-person, and continuing operations in the way you did. It’s impressive.”

The municipality’s total expenses for 2020 came in at $15.36 million, more than $1 million less than they had initially projected to spend, while revenues came in at $15.96 million, around $300,000 less than was projected.
While revenues in 2020 were in line with where they were in 2019, expenses were up substantially – with an extra $1.76 million spent this year compared to last year.

Turnbull said there was a reason for that, and it isn’t necessarily a negative.

“This is where the landfill liability issue comes in, and a swing has taken place [this year]. If you remember last year, there was a bit of a swing down in expenses because of how the landfill liability changed, this year it swung the other way, so has created what appears to be a [big] increase in expenses… There’s really nothing to be concerned about there,” Turnbull said.

He did point out, too, that there had been an increase in costs associated with haulage and processing of waste and recyclables, which had also contributed to the increase in expenses.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said she was pleased Turnbull hadn’t identified any “red flags”, commending council for the “responsible job” they’re doing as stewards of municipal funds.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Turnbull said there were several areas council should be mindful of spending-wise as things start to open up again in Ontario.

“As we start to switch back to in-person ways of doing things, I would suggest you watch out for discretionary spending. Once we go back, there will be more costs,” Turnbull said. “With people [being back in the office], you’ll be spending more money on supplies, and those supplies will cost you more now… With demand and the shutdown of plants and things like that, people haven’t had time to manufacture things, so the cost of things has gone up and delivery times are taking longer, so that’s something to monitor, for sure.”