(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

COLUMN: Summerland council taking stock of its finances in wake of COVID-19

Municipality must examine effect of pandemic on budget items

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down.

Besides worrying about our wellbeing and the health of our loved ones, we’re seeing businesses close, people losing their jobs, and many of us struggling to make ends meet.

The federal and provincial governments have announced financial supports for businesses and individuals and, understandably, many people want to know if local government is also able to help.

On March 9, Summerland council discussed ideas like providing a grace period for the payment of property taxes and utility bills. It was agreed that before providing any public assistance we needed to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the municipality’s own operations and revenues.

Just as households and businesses are looking at their accounts in the wake of the pandemic, council needs to take stock of its financial situation.

READ ALSO: Summerland’s proposed budget requires $16,382,355

READ ALSO: Summerland property taxes forecast to rise

One of the biggest hits will be to the recreation department’s annual revenue of $800,000, including $230,00 from arena rentals; over $100,000 from youth and adult programs and events like the Giant’s Head Run; more than $100,000 from fitness centre memberships and drop-in tickets and more than $100,000 from swimming lessons, public swimming and other aquatic programs.

While there may be some savings on the expense side, the operational costs of recreational facilities are mainly fixed.

The problem is that we’re dealing with a Socratic paradox (named after the Greek philosopher Socrates): The only thing we know is that we know nothing.

We don’t know how long the arena and the aquatic centre will remain closed. We don’t if Peach Orchard Campground, which provides $100,000 in revenue, will even open for the season.

We don’t know the impact on the many capital projects slated for this year, including a second scale at the landfill; trail repairs on the lakeshore and up Peach Orchard; new pickleball courts; a dog park; and road works on Victoria Road, Doherty Avenue/Bathville Road, and Turner Street.

Hopefully most projects can proceed as planned. Each one is important to the community, and spending on public infrastructure can help to fight a recession and get local business back to work.

However, even if projects are financially feasible, some could stall due to government orders for social distancing and self isolation.

These orders could also delay council initiatives that will require extensive public engagement, including the development of a downtown plan, designs for a recreation and health centre, and the affordable housing forum.

District staff are currently conducting a review of municipal finances and priorities and will provide recommendations for consideration at an upcoming council meeting.

While we just recently concluded our 2020 budget deliberations, council may need to re-deliberate. At that time, we’ll look to see where we can offer relief to residents and businesses as a short-term measure.

In the long-term, we’ll be dealing with a new normal. But Summerland is resilient.

Once this crisis is finally over, we’ll come together to rebuild our local economy and society, and we’ll come out the other side a rejuvenated, stronger community.

Doug Holmes is a Summerland councillor.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnistCoronavirus

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read