First phase of COVID-relief funding enough for Grey County

·2 min read

Grey County will not be submitting an application for the second round of COVID-19 relief funding offered through the provincial/federal Safe Restart Agreement.

“I cannot demonstrate that we're going to need more than the $3 million that we've got to get us through 2020. Therefore, I'm saying it's not appropriate for staff to make an application for phase two,” said Kevin Weppler, director of corporate services for Grey County.

In August, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing provided confirmation that as part of phase one of the Safe Restart Agreement, Grey County would receive $3,088,500 to support COVID-19 operating costs and pressures.

The funding requires the county to report back to the ministry in March with operating costs and pressures, its overall financial position, and how the provincial funds were allocated.

“The province expects any funds not required for this purpose in 2020 to be put into a reserve to support potential COVID-19 costs and pressures in 2021,” Weppler explained during a recent county council meeting.

In order to qualify for phase two funding, the county must demonstrate that its expenses are greater than the $3 million that was previously provided.

Based on departmental financial reviews and year-end projections, along with additional COVID-19 funding that has been announced, staff anticipate that the municipal operating funding from phase one will be sufficient to support the county’s 2020 COVID-19 operating costs and pressures.

“These estimates are based on no outbreaks occurring or any other extenuating circumstances that we don't know of right now. But, looking at things right now, this funding will be sufficient and will be able to carry us into 2021 to use in our 2021 budget,” he added.

According to Weppler, the county has approximately $1.1 million left from phase one funding allocation.

“I continue to see long-term care and paramedic services having increased COVID costs, and so the plan is that additional costs will be in their budget in 2021 and that they will use all of this funding up at that time,” Weppler said.

Grey County staff are expected to present a corporate financial update and year-end projections as of Sept. 30 to council on Nov. 12. This report will include an outline of the application of phase one funding.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca