Pandemic response not projected to blow hole in county budget

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Disruptions related to COVID-19 won’t have a serious impact on county finances, suggests a budget variance report from treasurer Ken DeHart.

At the June 25 council meeting, councillor Chris White, who chairs the county’s administration, finance and human resources committee said the county and lower tier municipalities seemed to be weathering the financial storm from the pandemic fairly well.

“We’re all working our way through the COVID, of course we don’t have transit systems and other difficulties that large urban centres have,” noted White. “The county itself is in pretty good shape. We will probably come out of this with a small surplus, maybe just breaking even.”

A surplus of up to $680,000 is projected in the county’s operating budget at this point, states the treasurer’s report.

“The range of potential variances reflects the variability that may occur as the year progresses,” DeHart notes.

The most significant factors which will determine the county’s final year-end position in 2020 are:

– the extent to which services throughout the county have been, and continue to be, impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic and any additional offsetting provincial funding available;

– the OPP contract reconciliation for 2019;

– supplementary taxes and tax write-offs;

– severity of winter weather and its impact on roads and building operation; and

– updates from the City of Guelph on potential land ambulance variances.

On the capital side, projects that went to tender this spring have resulted in adjustments to the approved budget or the original scope of work. A total of $315,000 in budget shortfalls combined with $216,000 in budget savings has resulted in net adjustments of $99,000 approved to date, the report notes.

“I want to thank Ken and his staff and all the excellent work they’ve done to make sure we get through this pandemic without a serious financial hole,” said White, noting that hiring freezes and other measures have helped keep the budget on track.