Highlands East sees surplus, more building, more people

The following are briefs of Highlands East Council meeting from Tuesday, July 13.

From the Independent Auditor’s Report completed by Baker Tilly, Highlands East finished with an accumulated surplus of $19,119,363 for 2020 as of Dec. 31, which was up from $17,581, 998 in 2019. The total revenue for the township was $10,133, 834 while expenses were $8,596,469, which was slightly higher than the previous year of $8,850,039.

Richard Steiginga of Baker Tilly explained the accumulated surplus.

“Although you have a $19 million surplus … you don’t have $19 million in the bank and you will see that’s first highlighted by the fact that you have almost $14.5 million invested in your capital assets, that would be the net book value of your roads, your buildings, land and all those type of things, so that is your largest component to your accumulated surplus,” Steiginga said. “And then you have the items that you don’t have to fund immediately, so that would be the landfill closure and post closure liability. Some of those costs are already built into your budget being the monitoring costs for the various sites, so it would be the actual closure costs as they come up that you’ll have to budget in the future. So there’s one site anticipated to closed in 2025 so there is some costs there and that will need to be factored in at that point.”

He adds employee future benefits are already built into the budget.

The reserves are left over and it has grown. The reserve pot has been topped up as a result of monies saved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlands East finished with a five-year high for financial assets, which includes cash, accounts receivable and taxes receivable. It was up from $4,303,492 in 2016 to $7,465,629 in 2020. The biggest increase came with cash at nearly three times with $2,779,792 in 2016 to $6,291,443 in 2020.

Financial liabilities such as accounts payable and accrued liabilities, deferred revenue – obligatory reserve funds, deferred revenue -other, landfill closure and post-closure liability and employee future benefits were only slightly more in 2020 with $3,182,326 than it was four years ago with $2,512,119.

Records continue with building
Arlene Quinn presented the building staff report on behalf of Laurie Devolin, which included the staggering numbers related to the unprecedented growth.

The most recent construction values for 2021 has reached $21,572,514, far greater than the $3,958,740 a year before. At nearly double what was applied for last year with 110 building permits which included 33 for dwellings and 77 for others to only 65 the year before, the township has seen unprecedented growth. Sewage system permit issues has followed suit with 60 compared to only 29 to this point in the year.

“I don’t know where to even start. This is totally scary,” deputy mayor Cec Ryall said. “The last meeting I asked if we had a shot at breaking $20 million this year. Well, I guess that’s kind of come and gone. Do we have a shot realistically based on what I heard this morning .. do we have a shot at $30 million?”
Quinn said in her opinion, “I would say, yes.”

More people, more work for bylaw enforcement
Bylaw enforcement officer Kristen Boylan said the influx of people has added to an ever-increasing work load.
“We’re definitely trying to keep our heads above water,” she said. “New cases seem to come in all the time. We’re not prepared, but trying to be prepared, as they come in because you just don’t know what you’re going to get nowadays with a lot more residents, both permanent, tourism and seasonal. We’re going with the flow.”

Cardiff well faces repairs
Environmental supervisor Megan Lockwood outlined the extensive work needed for the Cardiff drinking water system related to a recent Provincial Officer’s Order environmental report.

The well needs to be removed and a new casing and screen will be installed, including the replacement of below grade components, as a result of the high iron in the water. The recommendation is for an intense cleaning, which is necessitated every few years.

“Just because of the age and the integrity of that well at this point it can’t withstand the cleanings that it needs. A repaired well will replace all the parts and get us back up to a point where we can maintain the well, as it should be,” she said.

International Well Supply Ltd. is expected to perform the work.

Mayor Dave Burton inquired about a local company to do the work, but Lockwood said, “International Well Supply has been involved with us on this project the whole way through, and with the ministry, with the contracted consultants and are very familiar with our system, and the scope of the work that needs to be done and also have the ability to do it.”

It’s unknown when this work will be executed. There is no timeline for completion.