Just how big are the reserve funds? Big BIG

By Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2023



It is sometimes referred to as the City Council piggy bank – a fund that can be dipped into when things get tight.

The taking of $400,000 out of the Hydro Reserve fund was a classic example.

Set out below is the status of the reserve accounts as of September 2022.

At the end of each fiscal year Council takes whatever there might be in the way of a surplus – meaning money that was not spent, is sprinkled on various reserve funds.

Some of the reserve funds can be accessed -others can’t be touched until they are needed

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1 comment to Just how big are the reserve funds? Big BIG

  • Barry Y

    That is quite a large sum. It works out to almost $1,600 per household if my research is correct and there are about 72,000 households in Burlington.

    Is there any unbreakable rule or law that says such funds cannot be allocated at budget time? (Yes, I see the comment “Some of the reserve funds can be accessed…”). Law? Rule (to be broken with impunity)? Suggestion (law with no consequence if not followed)? Rule or law that can be changed at the city council?

    It sounds like there are funds remaining every year. Is that true? What’s the average per year? Why not assume that remainder and reduce the take, reduce the 5.9% proposed property tax increase? And allocate a portion of the budget to be funded from this reserve, further reducing the tax increase.

    $400,000 was used from the hydro reserve fund. That’s less than 0.35% of the total reserve. Do that 100 times and there is still $74M is reserve! What is the theory of how this money will ever be used? I understand the need for a reserve, but this amount seems excessive, given one example of a token amount of less than 1% used.

    What is covered by the Local Boards and Program Specifics at $25M in reserve? Does such a group need any reserve? What is the consequence if sums are needed that were not budgeted? What funds are needed immediately rather than wait until next year?

    Questions. So many questions. So much money (per household).

    Editor’s comment. Some of the reserves are mandated – a specific amount has to be in reserve so that the service delivery is guaranteed. Snow removal is one of them