Cobourg’s town council called a special meeting on Tuesday to receive a detailed coronavirus pandemic financial impact update from its treasurer Ian Davey.
Davey told council, revenue shortfalls for 2020 are now estimated to be $1,988,000, which includes $980,000 from the Cobourg Community Centre during its closure, $515,600 from parking and $163,000 from the closure of the concert hall.
While that number seems high for a smaller community, Davey reassured council that it’s not as bad as it seems.
“The net financial impact without any assistance from the federal or provincial programs would’ve been a net deficit of $416,902 but when we add in the funding, that leads us to a surplus, if you will, of $261,000,” Davey said.
“Our cash position, as much as we deferred some payments and cancelled some interest in penalties, our bank balance has remained very steady during the course of the year.”
The Ontario and Federal governments have contributed $678,347 to date for the safe restart and transit-related funding to offset some of the losses and expenditures from the pandemic, but the community won’t be applying for the second round of provincial funding due later this month.
“I just want to understand as we go into 2021, we will probably see a reduction in revenue again, how will we mitigate that next year?” asked Coun. Emily Chorley. “Would applying for Phase 2 help us for next year’s budget?”
“My understanding of the Safe Restart Phase Two funding is strictly on the need for 2020,” added Davey. “That’s why we continue to work on those projections and schedules and if we come to a new conclusion in the next 10 days, we will apply for the funding. It’s not meant to give us a surplus to carry forward to 2021.”
Davey said he was unaware if funding would be made available next year if the pandemic continues and restrictions tighten again.
“This is something that’s a frustration to all municipal treasures and administrators across the province. We’ve done a good job and balanced our books and so, based on that, we don’t qualify for any additional funding.”
Davey told council the first round of funding was ‘no questions asked funding’ and that the municipality didn’t have to submit any detailed reports or audits on how it used that money.
“Clearly the implication is that if you come back for Phase 2 funding, you need to justify what you did with the first round of money and why it wasn’t able to offset your needs. It’s a frustration. We took care of our own house but we don’t qualify,” Davey said. “I do, however, think it’s better to be in good shape rather than be on bended knee to upper levels of government saying, ‘please help us, we need more money.'”
The Town of Cobourg has spent $34,460 on cleaning, $34,963 on communication, $169,928 on facility modifications and retrofits, $6,884 on its first responders, $19,098 on information technology (IT) and $58,499 on personal protective equipment (PPE) for a grand total of $323,833 from its COVID-19 expense account as of Oct. 15.
The municipality projects savings of $880,000 in reductions including in transit, parking, athletic facilities and lifeguard services during the pandemic this year.