Additional provincial funding will help local municipalities cope with the coronavirus pandemic, helping to offset lost revenues and cover additional expenses related to the crisis. Woolwich Township will be getting $233,000, while Wellesley can expect $86,000 as part of the latest iteration of the Safe Restart Agreement.
The funding was announced last week by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris.
“This is really part of a total investment in the region of $20,821,000, so almost $21 million provided to our seven area municipalities. This iteration is really to help… give them some budget certainty moving into 2021. Everybody’s in the process right now of putting together their 2021 budgets, most will be almost done at this point, so this will help them alleviate any shortfalls,” said Harris. “The nice thing with this is it means that they won’t have to find efficiencies or look at providing different services to make up for what could have potentially been a budget shortfall. Obviously, the big thing is we don’t want to see taxes have to get raised exponentially, so every little bit helps.”
This funding is part of a $695-million investment across the province to help all municipalities as they form their 2021 budgets.
In the first round, Harris says Wellesley Township received $204,100 while Woolwich Township received $550,500. That was part of about $43 million coming to Waterloo Region municipalities overall to help with critical services related to COVID-19.
He says funding like this is to help municipalities put their best foot forward as we move through the pandemic and it reflects “the reality that’s happening here in the province.”
In Woolwich Township, director of finance Richard Petherick welcomed the additional monies.
“We were not expecting that this was going to happen, but we’re very pleased with this announcement. I think it goes to show how much this pandemic has stretched [resources], and we’re very thankful for the province to recognize that as this pandemic continues on it does have an impact to municipal operations and municipalities’ bottom lines,” he said.
The $233,000 will help with losses that came from a lack of recreation revenues due to lockdowns.
Petherick said he expects some of the $550,500 from the first round to be left over as the township moves into 2021, noting Woolwich spent more than $100,000 on pandemic-related expenses, and that number continues to grow.
In Wellesley Township, treasurer Theresa Bisch says the $86,000 from the second round of funding will be used much in the same way.
“The township expects to use this funding to help offset lost revenue due to closures of our facilities, for PPE, additional cleaning supplies, additional staff time required for sanitizing our facilities and for equipment to allow as many office staff as possible to work remotely. This funding will also help the township continue to deliver recreation services that are being provided at a reduced revenue and increased expense,” said Bisch.