TBM to receive second round of COVID-19 relief funding

·2 min read

The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has acquired additional COVID-19 relief funding from the province.

Yesterday, the Province of Ontario announced TBM will receive $385,000 in emergency operating funds as part of the second phase of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

“This funding is critical to the town to cover costs associated with COVID-19,” said TBM Mayor Alar Soever. “Since the start of the pandemic, TBM has implemented a variety of measures to ensure community safety and to support local businesses through these difficult times.”

In late-July, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced the Ontario government had secured $4 billion in emergency assistance through the Safe Restart Agreement.

Of the $4 billion, $1.39 billion was made available to address operating pressures.

The funding was rolled out in two phases with 50 per cent of funding distributed to all municipalities in phase one, and the other 50 per cent available to the municipalities that can justify the need for additional funds through an application process.

"This joint funding will help Ontario's municipalities recover from the impacts of COVID-19 faster, by helping them to enter into 2021 without operating deficits from this year," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a press release.

In the first phase of the Safe Restart Agreement TBM received $493,500.

In mid-October, with the first round of funding applied, TBM staff indicated the 2020 budget continued to have an unfavourable variance of $232,525 due to COVID-19 initiatives.

The additional expenses indicated by town staff included: $25,000 for the bylaw department; planning revenue shortfall of $40,000; paid parking shortfall of $55,000; and a landfill revenue shortfall of $75,000.

"By ensuring our municipal partners are in a sound financial position to begin the new year, they can focus on keeping their capital projects on track while continuing to provide the critical services their residents rely on," Clark added.

Along with the $385,000 of second round funding, TBM will also be receiving an additional $99,000 to help cover 2021 operational funding.

According to town staff, the additional COVID-relief funds have been applied to the town's 2021 draft budget, which is currently proposing a 1.37 per cent tax rate increase.

"The 2021 budget had COVID-related expenditures that are currently being funded from working capital. The $99,000 will reduce the amount to be taken from working capital," noted Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM.

TBM released an updated 2021 draft budget for the public on the town website today and a public meeting is expected to take place on Jan. 11.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca