Provincial surplus drops another $17 million compared to pre-election estimates

B.C.’s projected surplus has dropped again, the province’s finance minister said today.

Unexpected expenses, mainly related to flooding and forest fires, pushed the province’s surplus down $17 million from June estimates to $136 million in 2013-14, according to first-quarter results.

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“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Finance Minister Mike de Jong. “We are still projecting a balanced budget on a razor’s edge.”

The province’s finances are now $61 million off the $197-million surplus forecast by the Liberal government before the May provincial election.

De Jong said the pre-election budget figures are still credible and are an accurate reflection of the province’s financial state.

But he said it will require “vigilance” to keep the $44-billion budget balanced.

“There is no room, based on the projections we are laying out here, for additional spending,” he said.

B.C. government revenues are projected to improve by $69 million this year, mostly through better-than-expected corporate income taxes, according to the quarterly report.

But that was overtaken by $86 million in additional expenses, mostly from forest firefighting costs and flood-related emergency programs.

The government has sold 42 per cent of a targeted $475 million in surplus assets so far this year, which are mostly old school sites and unused land, said de Jong.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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