City of Powell River will be moving forward with a gradual and prudent return to regular city service delivery levels.
At the October 15 city council meeting, councillors voted that in doing so, 2020 fiscal budget year expenses do not exceed total revenue, and directed return of capital and special project deferral authorization to the discretion of the chief administrative officer (CAO) and chief financial officer (CFO).
In introducing the motion, councillor George Doubt, chair of the city’s finance committee, said in view of the fact that the city’s tax collection has reached more than 96 per cent of what is due, the city is in a position where it can rely on the discretion of senior administrators to okay budgeted amounts from these deferred projects.
“We can provide the services the city deserves while keeping within our budget,” said Doubt.
According to a September 29 report to council from chief financial officer Adam Langenmaier, at the May 21 council meeting, council approved deferral of many capital and special projects in an effort to reduce discretionary cash spending to maintain financial stability through the early stages of COVID-19.
In his report, Langenmaier stated that since the May council motion, the city had continued to defer its capital and special projects. However, subsequent collections have provided adequate cash to continue operations and reduce the need to rely on capital reserves to fund operations.
“Therefore, the city is in a position to resume some of its 2020 capital plan,” stated Langenmaier. “Staff request that council authorize the CAO and CFO to authorize specific capital and special projects that are important to maintaining operations, are subject to grant funding, or have other urgency. Capital projects that do not meet these criteria will continue to be deferred until further property tax collection is made or long-term financial implications of COVID-19 are better understood.”
Langenmaier stated that council authorized deferral of $2,836,581 in capital projects for 2020. He stated the direction sought by staff is to proceed with projects of high priority.
“Total financial impact will be less than $2,836,581 as it is unlikely that the city will be free from the impacts of COVID-19 for some time,” stated Langenmaier, “and therefore, not all capital projects will be completed.”