Winter storms lead to Regina running operating deficit in 2022

The City of Regina released its year-end financial results for 2022, which showed a general operating deficit of nearly $1.6 million.

The deficit was largely due to a rise in the winter road maintenance costs seeing the City spend an extra $7.7 million on maintenance. It also marks the first time in over 30 years the City has posted a deficit.

“The winter road maintenance program was impacted by high fuel prices, an extreme winter season with above average snowfall and windy conditions requiring additional storm, systematic and routine maintenance responses to achieve the updated policy objectives and level of winter maintenance service,” the report said.

Since the City of Regina can’t legally run a deficit, it had to dip into its reserve to offset it.

The current balance in the reserve is $26.1 million, with the uncommitted balance being $24.8 million. Covering the 2022 general operating deficit of $1.6 million brings the City’s uncommitted reserve balance to $23.2 million, above the guideline minimum limit of $23 million.

Mayor Sandra Masters said council is concerned about seeing going over its winter maintenance budget again.

“I think all of council is concerned with this,” she said. “I think predicting the amount of snowfall can be tricky sometimes, and that’s why I think going 2023 but also into the winter portion of 2024 when we start spending next year’s budget, that next year’s budget also reflects the potential increase that is necessary.”

Masters said that council will be looking at making some changes to the program.

“Special attention to be paid to the upcoming winter maintenance budget,” she said. “I think talking through this past winter, the water maintenance program as it exists isn’t necessarily meeting the needs, so really looking at tweaking or overhauling.”

To pay for the over-expenditure of the winter maintenance budget, the City took $1.8 million out of its winter road maintenance reserve, leaving the balance in that fund at $0. Masters said they are early enough in the year that they can make adjustments.

“Without the reserve, knowing that we are well into the 2023 budget, adjustments can be made now. It’s just April, we are just through the first quarter and starting the second quarter, we can actually make adjustments to operating expenses on a go-forward basis for the balance of the year to ensure that we are getting a balanced budget by the end of the year.”

The Mayor added that it wasn’t all bad news, as the deficit could have been larger, but the City could run a surplus on its unities of $700,000.

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