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Hamilton’s forecast of 2020 budget surplus met with a ‘sigh of relief’

Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins credited the premier and prime minister with "living up to their promises", as city politicians received a 2020 budget update on Wednesday.
Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins credited the premier and prime minister with "living up to their promises", as city politicians received a 2020 budget update on Wednesday. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson says “there should be a collective sigh of relief over the city.”

Hamilton’s 2020 budget outlook has changed dramatically as a result of federal and provincial relief funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hamilton to get $44.8M in 1st round of Ontario’s emergency funding

In June, the city’s finance staff were forecasting an operating deficit of over $61 million due to increased costs throughout the pandemic, as well as lost revenues in areas like transit and recreational services.

Mike Zegarac, general manager of finance, presented an update to Hamilton’s general issues committee on Wednesday and is now forecasting a year-end surplus of about $420,000.

Zegarac says the upper levels of government have mitigated Hamilton’s costs “in areas such as housing and shelters,” as well as providing $44 million in emergency funding to the city to cover COVID-19 related costs through an Aug 12, 2020, announcement.

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Read more: Hamilton’s deficit projection grows as wait continues for federal, provincial assistance

Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins notes that “a lot of us are critical of the province or the federal government when they’re not there for our municipality and our constituents, and in this case both of them delivered.”

Collins credits the premier and prime minister with “living up to their promises when they said they were going to be there for municipalities.”