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City to use reserve funds to balance books amid COVID-19 struggles
REGINA -- Regina City Council will be taking $400,000 out of its reserve fund to make up for the loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, the City said by June 30 it will have lost $12 million in revenue and by the end of September that number will climb to $20 million.
The City will use money in its reserves to make up for the loss of funds. Regina Mayor Michael Fougeresaid the changes made on Wednesday will keep the city in good financial shape until the fall.
“If there ever was a rainy day, now is a rainy day,” Fougere said. “If there ever was a time of uncertainty and a time to use reserves as opposed to begin to think about leaning on taxpayers to recoup or somehow sustain something at this point would really be problematic.”
The $400,000 from the reserve fund will be used for the Spring Street Sweeping Program. The continuation of the program was discussed at length during the meeting, but council decided to keep the program.
“I would suggest we take $9 million out of the reserves and the rainy day fund that we got going because its pouring right now,” Ward 10 Councillor Jerry Flegel said.
City Administration has found savings of $7.5 million in expense reductions and $7.2 million through the suspension of capital programs.
The City is adjusting some programs to save money. The Transit Enhancements Program will be adjusted to not establish any new routes.
Regina’s flower bed program will continue but only 80 per cent of the program. The money to fund the flower bed program will come from the Winter Maintenance Fund.
City Administration said if Winter Maintenance needs extra money later on this year, it will go into its reserves again.
There will be no property tax increases of residents or commercial properties.
“I also want to highlight that the reductions that are being presented to you today are a result of the COVID-19 and they are driven by the need to adhere to public health orders and ensure the protection of employees and citizens in our community,” said City Manager, Chris Holden.
Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL)
Council approved a bylaw to allow REAL to access $13 million in credit the organization had. This will allow REAL to have their operations move forward. The organization is unable to generate any revenue at this time.
Nine road construction projects will be suspended for the time and will save the City $6.4 million.
Certain projects that involved water mains require a city employee to enter residents’ homes to connect a water line. Those projects have been suspended as its not recommended for City employees to be going into people’s houses.
The City also said its 4-6 weeks behind its construction schedule for this year as it was dealing with pandemic related issues. Capital projects such as the re-development of Regent Park and Maple Leaf and Wascana pools will still continue.
City Manager, Chris Holden, said many part-time employees have been laid off for the time being. Many of those employees work in the City’s recreation centres and libraries. Most full-time employees are still working on projects but Holden said if those employees eventually don’t have enough work to do more layoffs could be issued.
The City is also hoping to get some financial support from the Federal and Provincial Governments. The City of Regina also has to keep its books balanced which is requirement of the City’s Act.