Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson announced in a press conference Wednesday that the city is taking massive hits to revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At this morning’s meeting, council was given some financial scenarios as a result of COVID-19, that shows an over $140 million hit to our revenues by mid-September, and that number grows closer to $260 million by December, in the worst case scenarios,” Iveson said in the press conference.
The City is looking to decrease it’s expenditures in a number of areas while they wait for relief from the provincial and federal government, “to avoid deficits or huge tax increases, or massive loss in service delivery or crippling infrastructure cutbacks which will undermine the very economic recovery that we’re trying to stimulate when we can,” said Iveson.
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He says that the lower revenues have been caused by lower demand for services, as well as closed facilities and reduced civic activity in some areas.
“We are looking to reduce expenditures to offset these dramatically lower revenues,” said Iveson.
“Because we still do not have certainty for the cost coverage from the province or the federal government, nor is our municipality eligible for the 75% federal wage subsidy, we have had to reduce staff levels, and are likely to further reduce our staff levels, on a temporary basis to cover the growing financial gap.
“We’re going to have to look at delays in infrastructure spending to free up discretionary cash to cover the impacts of COVID on this year budget.”
“We hope that the provincial and federal infrastructure stimulus when it comes will allow us then to ramp back up without skipping a beat, but I do need to highlight that there is risk to our infrastructure program and our long term asset conditions because of the need to cut costs
Iveson says more hard decisions will likely need to be made that will affect the city’s operations.
He says additional budget reports will be publicly available next week, and will support city council’s decisions two weeks from now.