Coronavirus: City of Kawartha Lakes estimating $500,000 pandemic-related costs for 2020

City of Kawartha Lakes Municipal Hall building. Paul Dinsdale/Global News

As municipalities forge ahead into recovery from coronavirus pandemic-related closures, restrictions and losses of revenue, the budgeting process for 2021 will likely look much different than any years prior.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a cost that is fixed into most emergency services budgets (police, fire and paramedics), but for most other departments within a municipality, it is not.

Read more: Coronavirus — City of Kawartha Lakes working to curb projected $2.5M deficit

So far, the City of Kawartha Lakes is forecasting approximately $500,000 in pandemic-related overages, including PPE, for 2020.

“PPE is a big part of that, but cleaning protocols and equipment and retrofits such as plexiglass factor in,” said chief administrative officer Ron Taylor.

Mayor Andy Letham said steps that have been taken should help the municipality as the pandemic continues

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“The things that have been done to allow us to function better will help if a second wave does, in fact, come in,” Letham said. “Because we’ve been stable for so long, paramedics and the hospital have been building up their inventories and they’ve been working on that so they won’t get caught, like everyone did, as much as we did the first time if it’s needed.”

The added cost for 2020 doesn’t include all the other costs that tie in with the pandemic such as revenue losses, staffing reductions and service postponements.

“Even though they’re related to the pandemic, that’s (the PPE overage) operating purchases for equipment and supplies and so on,” Taylor said.

The expectation for 2021 is that PPE will be a line item in the next budget, but how much the municipality will budget for pandemic-related costs isn’t known at this time.

“We will include it into the base budget as we shift and move on operating expenditures in response requirements,” Taylor said. “For emergency services, it is a separate line item anyways, but we will be increasing it to plan accordingly.”

Read more: City of Kawartha Lakes 2021 budget deferred due to coronavirus pandemic

Last week, the province announced relief funding for municipalities that are dealing with major shortfalls.

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The City of Kawartha Lakes is projecting a $2.5 million deficit and $4.5 million revenue loss for 2020.

The province announced it would give the municipality $4.9 million.

“We’re staying on track of our goal of a balanced budget. When that money comes in we can apply it to the lost revenue and extra expenses we’ve incurred,” Letham said. “Next year, we know there will be some costs associated with the pandemic.”

And that will be a factor in how the municipality approaches its next budget.

“All our staff can do is make educated guesses and target for realistic expectations,” Letham said. “There’s some real concern out there for a second wave. We’re gearing up equipment-wise and for PPE.  We have no control over a second wave, this year or even next year. We’re doing the best we can. That provincial money will take some pressure off and give us some leeway going into next year.”

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