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County in neutral to positive financial position despite pandemic

Marcia Wallace, CAO, Prince Edward County 

Despite constraints of operating during a pandemic, the County’s Chief Administrative Officer reports the municipality remains in a neutral to positive financial position.

“Despite additional expenses and challenges, staff have effectively deferred projects and delayed large procurements to manage cash flow, while maintaining those services that are most required,” said CAO Marcia Wallace in her mid-year report to council, presented Tuesday night.

“Pending the possibility of financial support from upper levels of government (recently promised, but without details on implementation), as we move into the latter half of the year, we will make decisions about which deferred projects and procurements can contiue, and those which will need to be revisited in the 2021 budget discussions.”

The report, focusing on April to June, notes COVID-19 substantively impacted the activities of the County as there was a shift from emergency response, to recovery, in terms of the activities of municipal staff.

Wallace reports revenues are lower than the budget by $1,090,300 due to transfers from reserves not completed, COVID-19 and measures taken to mitigate impacts to ratepayers such as free bags of garbage curbside, cancellation of all penalty and interest on outstanding taxes and utilities; the closure of community centres, town halls and parks and the deferral of final tax bills to September and November.

“The County has also incurred unbudgeted expenditures of $409,125 related to personal protective equipment, pandemic pay and the creation of safe and physically distanced spaces for staff. These expenditures have been offset by funding received from the province for pandemic pay of $399,865.”

Operating expenditures, she noted, are under budget by $8,236,300.

“This is due primarily to transfers to reserves have not been completed, the seasonal nature of expenditures and a number of departments having positive expenditure variances as a result of the pandemic,” she stated. “Also impacting the lower expenditure amount are deferrals offered by senior levels of government that have provided relief to strained cash flows.” Some of those are deferrals of WSIB payments, school board payments and deferral of the OPP May payment to September.

Final tax bills were issued in July with due dates of Sept. 15 and Nov. 16.

“The deferral of tax bills has impacted cash flows for the County and procurement was looked at closely. For capital costs, only those projects that were of the utmost importance were procured, and projects that could be pushed to the fall and still be completed in 2020 were delayed. Operationally any work that could be moved to a future year without compromising public health and safety was deferred so that the costs will not be incurred in 2020. The County does have an operating line of credit with the bank but has not had to access these funds.”

Wallace’s report notes that to assist with cash flows, staff will be recommending in September that council allow a construction loan for the major road works.”

A detailed rural roads workplan has been developed to implement the Road Needs Study presented to the Committee of the Whole in March 2020. The workplan consists of single and double surface treatment, micro-surfacing and pavement crack routing and sealing programs. Implementation of the plan continued in the second quarter and the work is approximately 60 per cent complete.

Wallace was thanked by several councillors and the mayor for her extensive report which also provided updates on staffing, training, risk assessments, changes to service delivery, planning, development, repairs, water and wastewater services, fire services, infrastructure, parks and municipal buildings.

The full report can be found within the council agenda and is also to be shared on the County’s social media.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Sarah says:

    This effective management by our new CAO is very encouraging. What a year in which to get one’s feet wet in a new job. Bravo to Marcia.

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