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“I think utilizing a federal program to support is an obvious one, provided the allocation amount and restrictions are appropriate to accommodate that,” he said. “The other (option) would be looking at service levels or service reductions from now until the end of the year. Ultimately, we could use the (financial stabilization reserve) (FSR) to be the backstop (but) that’s not our desire.”
Laughlin said if council does choose to rely on the FSR, then there will be less flexibility to be able to use it next year if it is needed.
During the Monday meeting, Mayor Don Iveson said he hoped financial relief from the federal and provincial governments would be retroactive However, he was unsure if this would apply to transit.
“We’re still waiting to see the nuts and bolts of (the combined federal, provincial relief) and the specific eligibilities,” he said.
As part of the $19-billion package, $2 billion will go directly to help offset city operating costs and another $1.8 billion will support local transit systems, of which $60 million will go to Alberta.
City administration says the hope is to use the relief funding to offset the deficit.
Council adjusted the year-end operating budget by roughly $142,000 in May in response to the pandemic, resulting in a revenue budget of $2.7-billion and expenses at $2.3-billion. The report is used as a benchmark to see how close the city is to those adjustments.
Council will have another chance to adjust the budget in November.
The latest financial update is in contrast to the one released in March, which showed a $20.2-million surplus for 2019.