City of Ottawa projecting $8 million budget surplus in 2021

OTTAWA — The city of Ottawa is expected to end the 2021 budget year in the black, thanks to federal and provincial funding to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report for the Finance and Economic Development Committee shows the city of Ottawa posted a $12.5 million surplus in tax-supported programs through the first six months of the year, and an $865,000 surplus in the rate-supported programs (water and wastewater).

The city is projecting a year-end surplus of $6.1 million in tax-supported programs and a $2.1 million surplus in rate-supported programs, resulting in an overall budget surplus of $8 million.

Staff say the projected surplus includes $136 million in costs relating to COVID-19, which is offset by $135 million in funding from the Safe Restart Agreement, Social Services Relief Fund and other funding from the senior levels of government.

If it wasn’t for COVID-19 related costs for departments, staff say the city would run an $18 million surplus this year.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health will also cover the city’s $11.8 million price tag for running COVID-19 vaccination clinics across the city, which includes staffing.

News of the projected budget surplus for 2021 comes as the city of Ottawa begins drafting the 2022 city of Ottawa budget. Council directed staff to draft the budget with a three-per-cent property tax hike, along with a 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares.

FIRST HALF BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

The city of Ottawa posted a $12.5 million surplus in the first six months of the year, thanks to savings in public works and community and social services.

Staff say Public Works and Environmental Services Department posted a surplus of $4.4 million in the first half of the year, mainly due to less road maintenance due to the mild winter. Community and Social Services ran a $5.4 million surplus due to a lower demand for some Employment and Social Services benefits due to federal COVID-19 response benefits.

Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services posted an $8.3 million surplus, mainly due to facility closures and program cancellations due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The city did see a $10 million deficit in non-departmental services, mainly due to a decline in revenue from the Red Light Camera program, the Automated Speed Enforcement System and the closure of the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

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