Landfill will be a financial challenge

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Landfill will be a financial challenge
The City of Cornwall flag outside of City Hall (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The City of Cornwall Council held a special meeting on Monday, June 29 to hear presentations about the municipality’s financial health.

MNP LLP, which annually audits the municipal finances, stated that the cities books looked strong.

Jamie Pollock of MNP did point to two sore spots however, two major tax refunds in 2019 and the future of Cornwall’s landfill.

In 2019, the City of Cornwall had to refund taxes to two distribution centres in the city. Those distribution centres argued against the value of their properties as assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and won, meaning that Cornwall had to repay the taxes it had collected on those properties. All told, the City refunded $6.5 million more in 2019 than it had the previous year.

The Cornwall landfill also was listed as a liability for the City. In 2019, the City began to prepare for the eventual end of the landfill’s life. It is estimated that to close the Cornwall landfill and maintain the ecological integrity of the site will cost the municipality $36 million, which Cornwall has already begun saving for. The City is not currently saving to find and purchase a new landfill site.

According to Cornwall’s Chief Financial Officer Tracey Bailey, the City put in $200,000 into a reserve fund for the landfill this year, with that number doubling every year until a contribution cap of $2.5 million is reached.

“You are in stronger financial shape than what these statements are telling you,” said Pollock of MNP. “Without those expenditures, you would have been positive by $3.3 million for the year.”

Pollock also stated that the municipalities finances had weathered the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic fairly well.

“The municipality will weather this very well and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are as strong coming out of this as you were going into it,” he said.

One recommendation that Pollock did have however was to ask administration to consider increasing their plan to build a reserve to deal with the landfill issue, stating that it should aim to have the required funds within 12 years.

“Seeing the liability on financial statements is a good thing. You have to start planning for that because it will come sooner rather than later,” he said.

Mayor Bernadette Clement praised administration and MNP for their work.

“Overall, we hear clean audit, and we hear cooperation between administration and auditors, and we thank you for your work,” she said.

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