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City reveals $4.5 M surplus

$200,000 allocated to salmon play and Chinese books

More than $4.5 million was left over in 2011 City of Richmond tax dollars - but it will all be plowed straight back into one-time funding projects.

The city's annual surplus appropriation went before council's finance committee Monday with a total of $4.556 million on the table.

The left over cash was attributed to higher than budgeted building permit revenues in the planning and development department.

Lower than budgeted costs in both the RCMP and firerescue departments, due to unfilled positions and lower than expected operational costs, also contributed to the overall surplus.

And the freezing last fall of all of the city's discretionary expenses helped swell the figure further.

A report compiled by Jerry Chong, the city's finance director, highlighted 18 spending requests for the 2011 surplus. The requests were recommended by senior staff and totaled $6.7 million.

However, a total 15 funding requests were approved by the committee, with $1.289 million at the top of the list to cover retroactive RCMP pay increases.

Other allocations included:

- $400,000 for fire-rescue equipment and vehicle reserve;

- $100,000 to help inventory a Chinese language book donation to the library, worth $1.2 million;

- $775,000 to address a funding gap in the infrastructure reserve;

- $150,000 for the Lansdowne Greenway Art Project, which hopes to beautify the corridor from the oval to Garden City Lands.

Almost $1.8 million that was recommended to go into the 2013 capital program was taken out by the committee, with $500,000 of it sliding into the infrastructure reserve.

The rest of the money previously assigned to 2013 capital went to requests that hadn't made the cut, such as:

- The major events provision fund ($125,000);

- The mobile community safety education unit ($67,500);

- The Salmon Row play in Steveston, which ran to sold out audiences last year at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

Also from the $1.8 million came a new funding request, not on the list, in the shape of $50,000 for a temporary, parttime childcare coordinator.

All of the expenditures approved by the committee will have to be rubberstamped at next week's full sitting of city council.

Last year, the city allocated $2.5 million in leftover cash to one-time spending requests, including more than $200,000 to the Sister city plan.

acampbell@richmond-news.com