PORT HAWKESBURY: The Town of Port Hawkesbury posted a surplus for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The town’s financial statements and audit report was presented by Ryan Armstrong of Grant Thornton during the September council meeting on September 11.

Port Hawkesbury ended the year with an overall surplus of $528,709 and no new debt was obsorbed from capital projects.

The town’s finance director, Erin MacEachen said the surplus came from various areas.

“We had a good snow year, our snow removal costs were down significantly because of the season we had,” she said. “We did better on our leachate revenue, which is us treating the run-off from the landfill in Guysborough at our storage-treatment plant.”

Then there were a number of various repair and maintenance accounts that didn’t meet budget because the repairs weren’t required.

“I think our departments were cognoscente and fiscally responsible and spending where spending was required, but not spending frivolously so it resulted in our surplus this year,” MacEachen said. “It’s about six per cent of our total budget and that’s about in-line for where we like to be at.”

The town transferred the full amount of their surplus of $528,709 into their operating reserve, which is basically a savings account.

Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said since 2012, the town has been working diligently to be fiscally responsible with capital projects.

“We’ve been trying to streamline the way we provide services but still keep our service levels high and to be at anticipated levels our citizens appreciate.”

Along with increasing their surplus, the town also decreased their long term debt by $450,865.

“Part of that fiscal prudence was to [do] exactly that, to reduce our debt load and to generate a surplus,” Chisholm-Beaton said. “If we don’t have that money on hand to be able to leverage for a program, or a project that may arise either at the provincial or federal level, then we lose out.”

It’s something the town can put into their reserve for capital projects, or investing in the community, MacEachen said.

“Which is why we’re able to do projects like Pitt-Napean this year because we put money into our operating reserve to be able to leverage dollars from the federal government.”

During the meeting, Port Hawkesbury CAO Terry Doyle gave an update on capital projects, including the Pitt-Napean project, which he said was going fairly well but they have been experiencing some difficulties.

“We’ve run into a considerable amount of rock of Pitt Street which we hadn’t expected that slowed the process down,” he said. “A tremendous amount of work had to be done on the intersection of Macsween and Napean, there’s a very large communication duct bank that runs through that intersection that had to be protected while we were getting under it and around it.”

This was something that took much longer than originally expected in tendering, Doyle said.

“The final bit of concrete will go into the ground in the first week of November. There’s 300 metres of utility left to install, that seems fairly achievable to us,” he said. “They have stopped digging, stopped tearing up street and have gone back to the bottom of Pitt Street completing tie-ins of utilities and making that piece of roadway more accessible and ready for sidewalk and asphalt.”

Another large project was the Reynolds Street resurfacing in which Scotia Paving was awarded the tender for low bid, Doyle said.

“The pricing was fairly good on all three aspects, the resurface of Reynolds Street, the replacement of the fire hall parking lot, and replacement of the causeway shopping centre parking lot.”

The milling of Reynolds Street is scheduled to begin later this week.

Other projects included the tennis court resurfacing, which was completed early this summer. In August, the safety netting in the rink was installed. The construction for the pump track is almost complete and Doyle said he expects it to be wrapped up later this week.

Also, tender documents are being completed for the off-road, active transportation lane from Pitt Street to the NSCC Strait Area Campus.

“We should see tender documents by the end of the month for review, and have it out to tender in early October,” Doyle said. “It’s getting late to do a lot of work on that but we will see some work started on that AT lane.”