News / Winnipeg

City of Winnipeg faces $6.2M deficit following snowy December clean-up

A new financial report shows the city is on track to end 2016 $6.2 million in the red.

Snow removal along Brazier street at Ottawa in Winnipeg Manitoba, January 10, 2017.

Lyle Stafford/For Metro

Snow removal along Brazier street at Ottawa in Winnipeg Manitoba, January 10, 2017.

A massive snowfall in late 2016 has left city hall with no choice but to begin fiscal belt-tightening just weeks into the New Year, according to Winnipeg’s finance chairman. 

Coun. Scott Gillingham said early estimates show the city spent $18.9 million on snow removal in December, which has left the finance department predicting the city will close last year $6.2 million in the red, based on figures from Nov. 30. 

Each snow-clearing operation generally costs between $6 million and $7 million. 

A new financial report – which the finance committee will discuss on Monday – says the city is expected to have blown through its snow-clearing budget by $11 million.

The 2016 budgeted amout for snow removal was $33.5 million.

A previous financial estimate had the city on track to have a $2.5-million surplus – but that was before Mother Nature dropped 68.8 cm of snow on Winnipeg in December, which left crews working around the clock.

“This was just almost an anomaly,” Gillingham said on Thursday, pointing out the city has ended the past few years in the black.

“The sheer amount of snow obviously that had to be moved through December is what really has had the most detrimental impact on our year-end in position.”

But now that city hall is staring at a deficit, he said all departments have been instructed to tighten up their discretionary spending.

That’s partly because the 2017 budget was built on expecting a $9.5-million transfer of leftover money from 2016, which no longer exists.

Gillingham expressed some hope the deficit could decrease once the final year-end numbers are tallied and presented at the finance committee’s meeting on Feb. 13.

“Obviously we never want to see a deficit.”

Police's spending in the red

Lower-than-expected revenue from photo radar enforcement is part of the reason 2016 is shaping up to be a deficit year for the Winnipeg Police Service.

A new third quarter financial report shows the service is projected to have overspent its budget by $5.1 million. 

That deficit is partly attributed to a bump in salary and pension costs after increases to the service's collective agreement.

Revenues from school zones and photo enforcement have also dropped, while overtime costs are on the rise.

"With increased calls for service and the wait time for calls in the queue, additional strain will be placed on efforts to keep overtime down and comparable to 2014 levels," the report reads.

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