Cornwall projects $522K operating deficit over nine city departments due to coronavirus

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall is projecting a net deficit of just over a half million dollars by the end of this month in nine of its city departments hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The financial projection is part of a report for a city council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) asking to delay the final two tax installments by one month each (July 31 to August 31 and August 31 to September 30) to give residents some financial breathing room.

The spreadsheet looks at corporate services, paramedics, police, fire, Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge, transit, parking, building services and recreation from the middle of March until the end of April.

Cornwall Transit, parking, building services and recreation are projected to have a “significant revenue loss” of $600,000 while the direct costs to all nine departments due to COVID-19 could be just over $1.1 million.

A little over $1 million in senior government funding will offset that while the city has found about $232,000 in savings through fuel, utilities, not paying out subsidies for recreation programs and a reduction in part-time salaries.

The final figure is a projected net deficit of $522,000 by April 30 in the nine departments as part of the city’s $163 million budget.

In the report to council, CFO Tracey Bailey says employees have been kept on the payroll in “regular city operations,” with the exception of part-time workers, school crossing guards and lifeguards.

The city juggles its limited dollars since over 3,000 property owners deferred their first installment of municipal taxes. That means about $4.5 million is not in city coffers. The lack of money, plus a decrease in interest rates, will also put some of the $1.2 million in projected interest income in jeopardy as well.

With people not travelling plus motels and hotels allowed to defer their municipal accommodation tax (MAT) remittances until the end of August, it’s estimated the city’s tourism budget will lose $200,000 in revenue by the end of June.

As for long term planning, Bailey says more money could be saved through “the possible deferral of capital projects in order to balance the city’s budget.” In other words, major road and building projects could be put on hold.

Wednesday’s council meeting online starts at 5 p.m.