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City projects $3.6 million deficit for 2020

Revenue down $19.5 million, expenses up $4.8 million
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City coffers are projected to come up $3.6 million short for the year, says a staff report released on Friday which places blame on the pandemic. 

“The city will likely experience deficits in both the tax supported and non-tax supported budgets,” the report states. “Given that we are currently experiencing the second wave of COVID, and the city is continuing to respond to changing provincial requirements, these estimates will still likely change and be revised.”

As a result of the pandemic, the city has seen an estimated $19.5 million shortfall in revenue and a $4.8 million increase in expenses.

Several mitigation measures have been put in place, including closure of facilities, service delivery changes, modified working environment for employees, 601 casual and part-time staff layoffs, a halt on non-critical hiring and placement of 127 full-time employees on declared emergency leave.

“Council and staff have recognized the urgent need to mitigate the impact of these losses and the estimated cost savings from mitigation measures is now projected to be $20.7 million,” the report states. 

The city also received $12 million in federal and provincial assistance through phase one of the joint Safe Restart program. Those dollars are dedicated to operations and transit.

“The Safe Restart … funding will enable the contingency reserves to remain intact in 2020 and better position the city to be able to manage the long-term financial impacts of this pandemic without significant increases to the tax levy or user rates,” the report explains. “It will provide the city with greater flexibility to respond to the second wave through 2021 and other unexpected events in the upcoming years.

“Likely, the impacts will continue for years as the businesses and employment in our community change, working from home becomes more prevalent and the province enacts new legislation to help mitigate pandemic emergencies in the future.”