Government funding and strategic cuts have put the City of North Bay in the position to have a nearly $1-million surplus in its budget by the end of the year.
The final year-end financial projection given to council on Tuesday shows a projected surplus of $974,545. Projections earlier in the year estimated a deficit of around $1.7 million.
The projections prepared by city staff in a report.
“Projections become more accurate as the year unfolds and more information becomes available,” the report states, adding the final number is still subject to change.
A significant contributing factor to the positive financial outlook is the over $4-million provided by the provincial government as part of the first phase of the Safe Restart Agreement. The money was split between municipal activities and transit.
The staff report says all of the $2.9 million earmarked for COVID-19 related expenses has been spent. The money has gone towards covering financial losses experienced by the YMCA, the North Bay Jack Garland Airport, and the North Bay Public Library in addition to other general government activities.
“We could not have brought this budget down with the surplus that we did without that government support,” commented councillor Dave Mendicino during Tuesday’s council meeting.
In addition to the government help, city hall also saved a combined $4.2 million through hiring freezes, layoffs, staff reductions as well as cuts to spending on travel, fuel and office supplies.
Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch commended the work of city staff for their work to quickly address the financial issues brought on by the pandemic.
“We’re trying to pivot just like businesses and everybody else in how do we provide the services our citizens need from us,” she told council.
Between Phase 1 funding already received through the Safe Restart Agreement and a pending application for Phase 2 funding, the city has decided to spend the money coming from the provincial government before dipping into reserve funds.
“Things will catch up with us eventually, so hopefully we get that Phase 2 funding,” Vrebosch noted.
As for what the surplus funding will be used for, the report indicates the extra funds will be put in tax stabilization reserves for future years. Drafts for the 2021 budget indicate $1.44 million worth of stabilization money is being used, which slashes about 1.5 percent off the projected tax hike.