Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is having an increasingly negative impact on the City of Edmonton's budget.
As of April 15, the City of Edmonton is projecting a total financial impact due to COVID-19 of:
- $94.9 million by mid-June (up from $61.1 million projected on March 30)
- $168.2 million by mid-September (up from $112.3 million projected on March 30)
Those losses come largely from transit, which is currently free, and from closed recreation and community centres. Mary Persson, the deputy city manager of financial and corporate services, cautioned the estimates may be on the low side. Furthermore, “the effects of the EXPO Centre activation is not included in the net financial effects,” she said.
At the end of April, administration voted to raise residential property taxes to 2.5% and freeze property taxes for non-residential ratepayers. But homeowners and businesses will both see a decrease overall due to the lower provincial education portion, reports Global News. (For an in-depth discussion of what's happening with city taxes, listen to Episode 84 of Speaking Municipally, Taproot's civic affairs podcast.)
Administration is not contemplating a full recovery in 2020, and instead put forward three scenarios for the end of the year.
- A return to 75% of typical operations, resulting in a total financial impact of $192.8 million
- A return to 50% of typical operations, resulting in a total financial impact of $216.7 million
- If the pandemic continues through 2020, the total financial impact rises to $260.0 million
Though council has approved property tax deferral for individuals and businesses, an update on March 27 suggested "the city would face cash flow concerns should a significant number of property accounts choose to delay even until September 2020." Despite a "relatively strong cash flow position," the city is requesting "that account holders still pay at the end of June unless they are facing financial hardship."
“As of March 19, we have $7 million in the bank and $359 million in a money market fund,” said Persson.
On March 30, the City of Edmonton announced it would temporarily lay off 1,600 City of Edmonton employees and 489 Edmonton Public Library employees.
It announced 900 more layoffs on April 27. Nearly half of the layoffs were transit operators, interim city manager Adam Laughlin said during a news conference.
“COVID-19 is continuing to have an impact on public health, the economy, and City services, and again it is taking a toll on our colleagues,” said Laughlin.
Locations are closed, but EPL is working with partner organizations.
Government funding is coming, while agencies have shifted services online.
All public engagement events have been cancelled.
published on Friday, March 27, 2020