Friday, February 26, 2021

C-K in ‘excellent’ position to weather the COVID-19 storm financially

A report on the financial resiliency of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will be discussed at the Monday, May 11 Council meeting.

Gord Quinton, the chief financial officer and treasurer for Chatham-Kent, authored a report and will make a presentation to Council at the meeting, which will be held electronically starting at 6 p.m.

Quinton said despite the financial challenges COVID-19 has brought to the Municipality, they will be able to cope.

“During annual budget session(s) and financial reporting throughout the history of Chatham-Kent, financial sustainability and resiliency has been a constant message,” Quinton said in his report.

“COVID-19 will have a significant impact on Chatham-Kent. Chatham-Kent is now in excellent financial position and is able to weather this storm.”

Gord Quinton

Quinton said in his report administration recognizes the “intense and severe financial hardship that has crippled business and instantly caused many residents to temporarily lose employment.

“The Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s operating budget has also been significantly affected by COVID-19. With the significant and unprecedented measures the Municipality has undertaken in response to the pandemic, staff have the duty to advise Council on the projected financial impacts on the operating budget, and to provide options for Council to consider to close the financial gap,” Quinton added.

A total of five recommendations are being brought forward to Council on Monday.

The first recommendation, is sending a letter to Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, asking for support in expediting Federal and Provincial funding to municipalities related to COVID-19.

The second recommendation is for Council to approve a number of actions to recover $2-million of tax dollars to responsibly respond to the financial pressures on municipal operations not directly impacted by COVID-19.

This includes closing or adjusting the following services for the entire spring/summer season:

– Arenas for ice and non-ice activities.

– Outdoor pools.

– Reduced service level of grass cutting for all sports fields and park lands.

– Reduced service level of grass trimming.

– Elimination of horticulture flower planting and maintenance.

– Recreation programming.

– Summer camp programs.

– Cancellation of hiring summer students across the organization with the
exception of Public Health, Riverview Gardens and Engineering.

– Cancellation of computer desktop replacement program for 2020.

– Capture of travel and conference training savings due to cancellations.

– Capture of employee benefit savings related to closure of non-essential service providers.

– Capture of utility savings of closed facilities and changes to electricity costing.

Staff is also recommending to close or discontinue the following services until recommended by the Province of Ontario and Medical Officer of Health:

– Indoor pools.

– Outdoor soccer fields and baseball facilities.

– Splash pads, tennis courts, skateboard parks and playground equipment.

– Marinas and campgrounds.

– Special events on municipal property.

– Banner hanging in downtowns.

– Museums, theatres and cultural facilities.

– Libraries.

– John D. Bradley Convention Centre (except for temporary shelter)

– Recreation halls / meeting room rentals.

The third recommendation is for staff to continue to be redeployed where necessary to support Public Heath, Riverview Gardens, COVID-19 isolation shelter and reduction of summer students and adjusted service levels.

The fourth recommendation is that approved infrastructure project funding remain intact as Chatham-Kent is not fully funded and cost will rise over time. Actual timing of construction may be delayed as per Provincial restrictions, staff says.

And the final recommendation states: “As per the 2018-2022 Council Term Priority ‘Rationalize current inventory of bridges, roads, parks and buildings in support for new infrastructure investment’, Council direct Administration to hold community consultations and return to Council with recommendations on opportunities for permanent service level adjustments to lower future property tax increases.”

“Based on current projections and assumptions over the next few months, the anticipated net impact of the Municipality’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 operating budget is $3.30-million,” Quinton said in his report.

“This consists of $2.4-million of forgone revenue, $3.6-million of additional cost and $2.7-million of anticipated or confirmed COVID-19 funding from senior levels of government for the 2020 year. Recommendation #2 is a list of service level adjustment EMT is recommending to Council to offset this deficit by an estimated $2-million leaving a gap of a further $1.3-million.”

To read Quinton’s full report, click here.

The meeting will be shown at https://www.yourtv.tv/chatham livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/yourtvck/ and on YouTube.

It will also be located on the municipality’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MunicCK/ where it can be viewed at any time.

To review all of the items being dealt with on Monday, and instructions on how to sign up for a deputation, click here.

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