Lost revenue and additional costs facing the Town of Black Diamond in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to be recouped via a government initiative.
The Town is eligible for $278,399 through the provincial and federal governments’ Municipal Operating Support Transfer program as part of the Canada-Alberta Safe Restart Agreement to support municipalities experiencing significant operating costs due to the pandemic between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
Chief administrative officer Sharlene Brown said the lost revenue and extra expenses relating to the pandemic have cost the Town about $25,000 so far.
“We will be able to recover some of the revenue lost due to COVID - not only revenue lost due to COVID but the additional expenses that have occurred because of COVID,” said Brown. “It’s going to go up because this year isn’t over and those expenses have to pull us through until March 31.”
At its Oct. 7 meeting, Black Diamond Town council agreed to authorize Brown and Mayor Ruth Goodwin to sign a memorandum of agreement to obtain the funding to help cover operational losses and expenses.
The $278,399 is for incremental operating costs incurred due to COVID-19 response and restart, as well as other operating losses and deficits incurred as a result of COVID-19 impacts on revenues and operations.
Incremental operating costs include personal protective equipment, communications, additional cleaning, supplemental staffing and additional supports for vulnerable populations.
Brown said administration will use the money, which is based on population, to help offset the shortfalls experienced at the Oilfields Regional Arena and protective services program, as well as extra expenses associated with implementing COVID-19 protective measures.
“We must execute a memorandum of agreement by Oct. 30 and administration will put a plan in place to offset some of the potentially lost revenues and the additional expenses for cleaning supplies, Plexiglas barriers, extra meetings and those kinds of things like that that have happened,” she said.
Revenue lost at the arena is the result of fewer booking opportunities for ice time due to cleaning and sanitizing that’s required between users, said Brown.
The Town also incurred additional costs after hiring 2.5 full-time equivalent staff for the arena and protective services who weren’t able to obtain the training required for their new positions after training institutions closed in March, Brown said.
“We didn’t know when the training facilities would be open so we kept those people on staff doing alternate jobs,” she said. “We needed the extra staff to do the additional cleaning in the arena so we were able to utilize the people, but not to the full requirements of their job description. Some of those dollars will deal with that.”
Each municipality receiving the funds must submit a statement of funding and expenditures form, reporting the use of the funds, by July 2, 2021.
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