How Regina manages its money has gotten a review.
Administration looked carefully at the city’s 21 reserves. At the end of 2017, it found these funds collectively carried nearly $210 million.
Reserves are primarily used to fund planned and unexpected capital and operational needs and play an important role in the long-term financial strategy of the city. More than half of the city’s 2018 capital budget comes from reserves.
Admin has recommended two reserves be closed.
The pest management reserve isn’t needed, according to a report, since the operating budget for the pest control program is sufficient to cover costs. That reserve was established in 2011 to help further fund the control of nuisance pests. No withdrawals from the reserve were ever made.
It is also recommended the facility reserve be closed. That fund was once needed to pay for capital upgrades to the old Taylor Field, which was previously demolished and currently being decommissioned. The Regina Revitalization Initiative reserve has been created to manage the new Mosaic Stadium.
Changes could also be coming to the minimum and maximum limits each reserve carries.
Five reserves, including the solid waste reserve, would see an increase in their limits. The winter road maintenance reserve and three others would have their limits decreased. The remaining reserves would have either minor or no changes.
The overall minimum would jump from $66 million to $83 million while the overall maximum reserve limit would be bumped up to $274 million from $206 million. The report indicated one of the main reasons for the increase is because of the solid waste reserve needing its limit bumped up significantly to ensure capital funding is available for the closure of the landfill, along with post-closure liability.
In some cases, if a reserve is above its maximum limit, administration can recommend money be transferred elsewhere. Admin is doing just that with city staff wanting to transfer $6 million, most from the winter road maintenance reserve, to a number of other reserves.
The $210 million currently in reserves is a considerable jump from the $61 million they had in 2007, but they are expected to go down again shortly. A $37 million chunk will be used to pay for the old STC bus depot building along Saskatchewan Drive that was purchased by the city to use as a new police headquarters.
The name of one reserve could also be changed for transparency reasons. The operational commitments reserve could be renamed to the elections and property reassessment reserve since it deals with funding municipal elections and the reassessment of properties, which both happen every four years.
All of these potential changes need to be approved by council, which will meet first in committee form to discuss the recommendations on Wednesday. Council will then have a final vote on the matter on May 28.