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Regina council approves a number of changes to offset costs amid COVID-19

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WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a financial strain on the City of Regina. As Allison Bamford reports, it continues to search for ways to save money – Apr 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a financial strain on the City of Regina, as it continues to search for ways to save money.

On Wednesday, the city held a special meeting to address the situation. Regina city council approved a number motions to help offset current and projected losses.

Included in the approvals is the deferment of $7.2 million in capital programs and projects. Among those capital projects is the Residential Road Renewal Project.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Regina city council holds special meeting to deal with budget shortfall

The Residential Road Renewal project includes nine individuals projects in 2020 and are being deferred to 2021. It will save the city about $6.4 million.

Council also approved the implementation of an expense reduction and redistribution of up to $7.7 million.

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Within its expense reduction measures, no vacant positions within the city will be filled, unless the positions are essential to operations. That will save the city about $4.1 million.

“This will handle the revenue gap we have for the moment…we are looking of course for other support from the federal government through a gas tax enhancement or the province by way of assistance as well,” Fougere said.

“[But] we are good until the fall.”

City administration asked to have to spring street sweeping deferred, but council voted against it. That would have saved the city about$400,000.

READ MORE: Regina Exhibition Association faces tough financial times during COVID-19 pandemic

To ease the impact of COVID-19 on Regina residents, the city has already extended the property tax payment deadline as well as suspended utility disconnections and collections activities on all utility accounts until Sept. 30, 2020.

Transit service will continue to be provided free of charge. The city also reduced parking enforcement effort and mobilized community social services for those most vulnerable.

In March, the city shut down its recreation facilities and city hall while laying off 80 per cent of its casual staff.

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The city projects it could lose $7.7 million by the end of the month if COVID-19 continues and $20.7 million by September’s end.

Under provincial rules, the City of Regina is unable to run a deficit to help get through the pandemic which is why its finding ways to offset costs.

Regina mayor Micheal Fougere ensured residents there will be no increase of taxes.

Click to play video: 'Regina takes action against COVID-19' Regina takes action against COVID-19
Regina takes action against COVID-19 – Mar 16, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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