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Scugog council sees updated projected financial picture

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

SCUGOG: Scugog finance staff presented projected figures for how COVID-19 will affect Scugog’s financial situation until the end of this year, at a meeting on Monday, June 29th. “Overall, the Township is projecting approximately $1,122,000 in payroll and other expenditure savings, and a loss of $ 872,200 in revenues, a total net savings of $249,800,” read a report from treasurer Dianne Valentim. The Township has seen a decline in tax revenue. “Penalty and interest charges were waived for May and June, resulting in a loss of approximately $106,000 for those two months,” read Ms. Valentim’s report. However, going forward the township expects to return to charging penalty and interest charges for outstanding balances. The report also addressed investment income. “It is assumed that interest earned will be significantly decreased, based on the current environment. Interest earned last year was just over $365,000, which was significantly greater than the budgeted amount. Interest income for 2020 will be much lower, given the significant drop in rates of return since April, it is anticipated that interest income for 2020 will be approximately $260,000, which is $30,000 less than budget.” The Recreation and culture department has been affected as well. The report states “fewer camps will be offered and fewer admissions will be allowed at the pool”, which will mean “lower revenue.” Regarding arenas, currently the township expects to only open the Scugog Community Recreation Centre in the fall, with the township not making ice available at the Blackstock arena. But she added in her report, 2020 arena operations are “one of the largest unknowns at this time.” “Overall, based on the above assumptions, the Recreation and Culture area is expected to be over budget by approximately $180,000 by the end of 2020. This is largely due to the lost revenue from ice usage,” Ms. Valentim wrote. Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido questioned if the assumption, of only being able to open one arena, had to do with COVID-19 or with specific Blackstock arena issues. “Hockey Canada and all the ice sport associations are trying to work out how [games] can be played safely, and we expect that overall enrolment and usage will be down. So, if we’re not using 100 percent of the ice in the Scugog Community Recreation Centre, financially it wouldn’t make sense to open up the ice at Blackstock [arena], which would cost more because it’s an older facility,” Carol Coleman, Scugog’s Director of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, answered. Scugog has deferred a number of capital projects until later this year, due to COVID-19. “Staff have reviewed the capital program and there are currently still 18 projects that have been deferred to September, and three that are grant dependent,” Ms. Valentim wrote in her report, adding Scugog staff members are regularly evaluating these projects. Ms. Valentim stated the financial situation continues to develop due to the pandemic. “We’re monitoring all of our expenditures right now. Things are changing fluidly. The province is making decisions and changing the way things are run weekly,” Ms. Valentim explained to councillors. “We feel that we made the right decisions as far as pulling back on expenditures.”

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