Funding & revenue losses discussed during meeting

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Pandemic funding from the upper levels of government has offset revenue losses, increased wages and other COVID-19 related costs in this year’s Northumberland County budget, councillors were told at this week’s council session.

The overall county budget was “$18-million favourable” to the end of the third quarter due to unspent items at that time but this amount was “expected to clear by the end of the year,” the County’s Finance Director Glenn Dees also said during his report.

At this time, he noted that pandemic funding received to date exceeded those specific expenses by $276,000. Some of this funding went to the pay increases directed by the provincial government for workers like those in the Golden Plough Lodge and paramedics, as well as extra cleaning.

Dees also provided an overall overview of the revenue losses impacting the County because of COVID-19. They included revenue losses of  $1.5-million, increased expenses of 3.5-million and expenditure savings of $1-million. When the $2.5-million in provincial Safe Restarting funding was applied there remained $800,000, he said.

Dees anticipates this excess will go into reserves once the direction has been given by the provincial government.

He explained that the $1.5-million in lost revenues is due to, reduced bag tag sales and sponsored collections- about $600,000, a similar loss in revenue at Provincial Offences court, revenue lost due to reduced interest rate returns- about $225,000, and a $50,000 shortfall due to the temporary closure then phased restart of the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre. As well, there were other smaller reductions in lost revenue. 

Cramahe Councillor Mandy Martin wondered why court costs were up $600,000 when the court wasn’t operating. Dees explained that Cobourg Police provide security, that this was an estimate, and that it could be reduced. Martin said his answer raised other questions. Warden Bob Sanderson said he expected Dees could respond to these, and that he knew the answers would be available. Martin did not pursue it at the meeting.

When asked by councillors about future COVID-19 government funding, Dees said “we won’t be applying for Phase 2 funding” because of the surplus the County currently has.

Because of the provincial government’s direction to extend extra pay to some front line workers, Dees said he does expect more money will come in to help with the specific wage costs at the Golden Plough Lodge and ambulance operations.

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