Whitehorse Daily Star

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City sets out cost of pandemic response

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be a net cost to the city of $1.8 million,

By Chuck Tobin on September 22, 2020

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be a net cost to the city of $1.8 million, according to a variance report on the annual operating budget presented to city council at its meeting Monday.

While the pandemic is creating more spending, the city will also spend less than budgeted with savings by not hiring seasonal and casual staff because of the pandemic, and its revenue is expected to be higher than budgeted for several reasons.

At the end of the day, it’s expected the city will run a deficit this year of $512,718, says the variance report.

City council passed an initial operating budget of $84.7 million for 2020.

The total cost of responding to the pandemic is expected to be $2.7 million, given lost revenue and additional costs.

But the city is expected to save $902,866 because of COVID-19 by not spending in several areas.

Savings in not hiring seasonal and casual staff are expected to be $507,094, for instance.

Not hosting planned events, as another example, is expected to save $35,052, and not conducting training as planned is likely to save $66,455, according to the variance report.

Shortfalls in revenue due to the pandemic were seen in several areas, including lost revenue from parking meters and transit services.

The decision by council to suspend paid parking at its meters for a couple of months, along with suspending the collection of parking meter fines, cost the city $288,425, says the variance report.

The suspension of collecting transit fares resulted in lost revenue of $459,650.

But lost revenue from recreation passes and membership fees is expected to be the largest factor at $1.26 million.

There were also unexpected expenses due to COVID-19, such as $405,060 in additional wages and benefits, and $47,099 for additional janitorial services.

“Soon after the announced declaration of an emergency, administration implemented a tracking system to monitor direct costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the report to council.

“Additional costs to the City in the form of unrealized revenues have been forecasted to the end of the year based on actual losses and the current phase of reopening in the Yukon.

“Some cost containment has been identified through delaying hiring of seasonal or casual employees and through the cancellation of hosted events.”

Helping to ease the impact of COVID-19 are several areas of increased revenue, such as an additional $607,197 in tax revenue.

The report explains that 2019 was a tax assessment year, and the results of the assessment were only made available after the budget was prepared.

“Due to unprecedented growth in the community and 2019 being an assessment year, the changes varied significantly from the initial assessment,” says the report.

The city has also benefited from the residential housing boom the city is seeing after the initial slowdown due to COVID-19, resulting in an additional $300,000 in revenue from the development cost charges.

According to statistics released Monday by Statistics Canada, the value of residential construction in July was $25.1 million, or more than double the value of $12 million in July 2019.

“The 2020 second quarter variance projection shows that total operating revenues are expected to be under budget by $1,908,331 and expenses will be under budget by $1,395,613,” says the report to council.

“Therefore, projections to December 31, 2020 as compared to the revised budget indicate an operating deficit of $512,718.”

Comments (18)

Up 4 Down 0

Jim on Sep 26, 2020 at 10:46 pm

@Hur dur, no I did not ask you how many government workers were not at work. I asked how many were laid off. Of course the buildings are near empty. Most are still working from home. So yes I do know the number that were laid off due to Covid. So again, No, we did not all take it on the chin.

Up 2 Down 2

Unfeckingbelievable! on Sep 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Chuck Farley - The evidence is clear that the trillions of dollars of debt came from the Demon-crats. So ya, Liberal Governments. This Just-in and keep in mind it’s Tru-dough... Obama did not care!

Up 11 Down 1

Charlie's Aunt on Sep 25, 2020 at 4:18 pm

@Henry W. Not to worry over $7,000 in paint, I think they must have decided on cheap paint. Drove over the new things at Front & Main yesterday; paint flaking & fading away already so they are not very visible. A snowfall should fix the rest. COW might as well have used sidewalk chalk.

Up 1 Down 6

Chuck Farley on Sep 25, 2020 at 3:12 pm

JC , deficits do not discriminate based on what side of the political spectrum one may find them selves; one only has to look at the US, a Republican lead government who is in the red for several trillions, or Canada where the deficit is in the billions - nice try thou.

Up 3 Down 6

Hur dur on Sep 24, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Jim, you are projecting. A simple walk into a government building or look at the empty parking lots might be too much effort, but it would give you the old eye test.
You ask me know how many government workers are not at work, I have to assume that you do not know. Yet you know enough to claim they didn't take it on the chin? Seems legit.

Those of us who have friends and/or family members directly affected by this can only shake our heads. This affected everyone, period.

Up 9 Down 3

Politico on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:59 am

@Hurr durr Re masks - You must remember that science for most posters here doesn't really matter. If masks were so useless why do all surgeons and ICU nurses wear them? Do you think any of the posters here would consent to surgery with a room full of unmasked Drs and nurses?! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgical_mask

Up 14 Down 5

Jim on Sep 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm

@Hur Dur, please let us all know how many full time government workers were laid off. So no, we did not all take it on the chin financially equally. It is most noticeable in the Yukon as the private sector is proportionally small compared to the rest of Canada. But I guess you feel that all government workers are essential even though most departments were shuttered and still only about 25% are back to work. The Yukon is pretty much living in a financial bubble unless you're in the service or tourist business.

Up 3 Down 5

JC on Sep 23, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Hur dur: I wasn't talking about non essential workers. I was talking about government workers.

Up 5 Down 7

Hurr durr on Sep 23, 2020 at 4:23 pm

JC you understand that non essential workers were furlowed or laid off or worked reduced hours?
Max mack, anyone can make stuff up.
Prove what you are saying. Provide links because health canada and most studies don't agree with you. At all. Prove it. Prove what you say. You are making the claim now prove it. I will wait...

Up 34 Down 4

Henry Wensleydale on Sep 23, 2020 at 10:18 am

City is running a big deficit BUT still spent over $7,000 to obfuscate even more
main street crosswalks.

How much PPE would $7,000 buy ?
The entire City Council needs to be replaced !

Up 16 Down 13

Max Mack on Sep 23, 2020 at 9:09 am

@ Hur dur

You do know that masks have not been generally required in the Yukon, so masks cannot have been a factor in affecting the spread of "the COVID"?
In fact, masks have had little to no effect in slowing COVID anywhere in Canada. Check the stats for places like Ontario and Quebec where masks are required.

Up 33 Down 1

Obi on Sep 23, 2020 at 5:14 am

How not to have a $500,000 Deficit.
Don’t spend a million dollars paving the parking lot at the ostentatious Public Works building.
Bingo! A balanced budget.
A glaring example of Government versus private business procedures.
As usual the City of Whitehorse may not have lost their marbles, but there is definitely a hole in the bag.

Up 18 Down 4

Jc on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Hur dur: You forgot the government workers. They didn't take anything on the chin. Took it in the pockets.

Up 21 Down 7

Jc on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm

Why do left wing governments always run deficits? I guess to protect their voters base. And I don't need to tell you what makes up that base. Do the math.

Up 16 Down 10

Hur dur on Sep 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Cant imagine how much more it could have cost without masks and basic respect for life policies. What if people didn't have cerb or ei or free healthcare and businesses didn't get their payroll and tax deductions. If mortgages and loans weren't deferred. The cost to rebuild seems staggering.
Billions now as opposed to trillions later seems like a decent trade. Everyone took it on the chin here except the billionaire. Yeah capitalism!

Up 7 Down 21

Nathan Living on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Very tight accounting, thank you for the update.

Up 54 Down 1

Yukoner on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm

"$405,060 in additional wages and benefits" sorry what?... additional wages and benefits for who, why?

Up 36 Down 0

Politico on Sep 22, 2020 at 2:04 pm

This is only what it will cost one level of government. The cost to the Territorial Government, National Government, First Nations and Canadian Business has yet to be determined!

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