The Town of Strathmore has moved to adopt what is being called the Financial Reserve Policy as part of the 2024 budget process.
The policy was presented before council during the July 19 regular meeting by Tom Maier, manager of financial planning, budgeting and analysis.
Maier explained the goal of the policy is to ensure the town maintains adequate long range financial planning and asset management, as well as maintenance of effective reserves to meet future local infrastructure needs.
“This reserve policy is basically a brand-new pulse – we did have one before from a few years ago, it did not have a lot of solid or firm commitments in it on funding levels (or) sources of funding, so we wanted to really tighten it up,” he said. “Some of the key concepts from the policy are ensuring that the reserves promote and help stabilize the property taxes, ensuring that we have good reserves, good funding in place so that way, we are able to meet any demands and challenges that the community might be facing.”
The intent of the policy is not to reduce the town’s reliance on grants and other auxiliary funding sources, but rather, to make sure the town is putting dollars away for much needed infrastructure replacement.
Mayor Pat Fule said it is a duty of council to not only consider the town’s immediate needs, but those which will arise in the future, potentially to be addressed by future councils.
“We can’t just think about right now. As leaders, we have a duty to consider healthy choices for the future – long past our terms on this council,” he said. “This is more than a rainy-day fund, it is a carefully researched, meaningful asset management and financial plan that will strengthen the town’s financial outlook in the future.”
The policy maintains a focus on the rationale and purpose of the reserves so there is a clear direction for council, administration and the community what the money was set aside for when the capital and operating budgets are presented to council.
Proposed 2023 reserves in total, divided between operational, capital, program-specific, and dedicated financial reserves equate to just under $11.5 million.
“The policies also, particularly the capital ones, really focus on repair, maintenance and replacement, making sure that the infrastructure that we have in place currently is maintained in the future,” said Maier. “Our water, sewer lines, roads, recreation, whatever it might be, that we are able to do proper asset management and have the dollars in place to meet those demands currently and in the future.”
According to the town, the next steps following the implementation of the policy will be to construct a 10-year forecast for each financial reserve as part of the 2024 budget process.
Once the policy is signed and in place, it will be made available for public reading through the Town of Strathmore website.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times