It’s not yet known how much of a hit the City of Grande Prairie will take as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Bill Given says administration is currently tracking all COVID-19 related budget implications, with a special budget code.
“At this time we don’t know whether there will be any provincial or federal supports for municipalities for expenses related to this. For our own purposes, we wanted to ensure we had a good handle on exactly how much our response to the pandemic has cost.”
In recent weeks, the city has taken several steps it says were made with a focus on financial stability, including laying off 330 casual and temporary employees. The majority of them worked at recreation and event facilities like the Eastlink Centre and Revolution Place.
It has also offered an extension to its property tax deadline to August 31st, an option Given has noted should only be taken if necessary as a lack of funds could affect city services. He adds it could be some time before the total financial impact of the virus is known.
“Obviously that will be a bit of a lagging item, as for the first quarter of the year there weren’t a lot of expenses related to COVID, and as we move through the year we will see that area increase. Obviously council wants to make sure we are on top of the expense to municipal taxpayers, as the municipal property tax base doesn’t really have the capacity to deal with this sort of unprecedented situation.”
Members of city council will get their first update as part of their first quarterly budget package.