COVID-19 pandemic has ‘minimal’ financial impact on Brock Township through six weeks

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a “minimal” impact on Brock Township’s bottom line through the first six weeks.

According to a report from Treasurer Laura Barta that is included on the agenda for Monday’s (May 11) meeting of council, the municipality is in relatively good shape compared to others in the area.

“When compared to other municipalities in the Region of Durham, the Township’s impact to date is relatively minor. Most other locals are dealing with significant financial costs associated with having year-round recreation facilities offering a much higher level of programing being closed to the public,” the report reads.

“The Region of Durham is also dealing with significant financial costs for the added levels of service required during the pandemic in the areas related to public health, long term care, social services, policing, transit etc. These additional costs will be shared by all the lower tier municipalities in subsequent year’s budgets if additional funding from the Province and the Federal government is not made available.”

The report notes that the loss in revenue associated with the early closure of the arenas has been offset by savings realized due to the layoff of casual/part-time staff.

Likewise, the cancellation of the March Break Day Camp Program allowed the Township to avoid the cost of hiring part time staff to run the camp with no impact to the budget, Barta wrote.

“In looking at the overall payroll related accounts, the Township was able to save almost $150,000 in total costs when compared to the same time in 2019,” the report reads.

“Part of these savings relates to the COVlD-19 layoffs and part to the change in staffing complement compared to 2019. These savings will help offset the added cost incurred by the Township for enforcement of the closures ordered by the Province, additional signage to help keep the public informed of closures, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies and improvements to the IT infrastructure necessary to facilitate working from home.”

However, that outlook could change dramatically if restrictions remain in place for an additional six weeks, Barta noted, particularly in four areas:

Loss of Investment revenue – April was already showing a significant decline with revenue posted being one third that reported in the March. To date the loss over last year is just over $14,000.

Loss in Interest and Penalty Revenue – Although the amount shown at the end of April is about $12,000 lower than last year this is due to improved collection of outstanding taxes. The May 1 penalty of just over $35,000 was waived by council in an effort to assist property owners through this emergency. It is anticipated that the June 1 waiver could be close to the same amount.

As well, Treasury staff reports that an additional $500 in service fees mostly related to NSF charges have been waived to assist taxpayers. The number of these waived fees is expected to continue to increase as the duration of the emergency is extended.

Barta also noted that a delay in hiring casual staff for summer maintenance (grass cutting and outdoor maintenance) has the potential of saving the Township approximately $5,000 per week. However, the work normally performed by these casuals would need to be done by the Township’s full-time staff.

“Any delay in hiring has the potential of impacting the completion of projects planned for 2020,” the report reads.

Barta also provided members of council with a timeline of KEY DATES AND ACTIONS related to COVID-19 as well as a comprehensive review of MUNICIPAL STAFFING levels during the pandemic.

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