Municipality of Sioux Lookout receives $1,204,000 to assist with COVID-19 recovery
Tim Brody - Editor
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout is receiving funding under the Federal-Provincial Safe Restart Agreement.
“This joint funding will help Ontario’s municipalities recover from the impacts of COVID-19 faster, by helping them to enter into 2021 without operating deficits from this year,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a Dec. 16 news release. “By ensuring our municipal partners are in a sound financial position to begin the new year, they can focus on keeping their capital projects on track while continuing to provide the critical services their residents rely on.”
“Of the $695 million announced by the Province (on Dec. 16), $299 million is being allocated across all 444 municipalities to help provide more financial relief. An additional $396 million is also being allocated to 48 municipalities, of which Sioux Lookout is one, that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and have demonstrated a need for additional assistance in covering their 2020 operating deficits,” Municipal Treasurer Carly Collins explained.
“The Municipality of Sioux Lookout will be receiving $1,143,000 from the Application-based funding stream (the $396 million) and $61,000 from the second funding stream that is shared among all Ontario municipalities ($299 million),” she further clarified.
“In order to be eligible for the Phase 2 application, the Municipality had to show possible 2020 COVID-19 related operating pressures due to loss in revenue and increased expenditures. The funding that we received is to help offset those areas.
“It is extremely important to note that the Municipality cannot use this funding to offset the 2021 Budget: that is not the intent of the funding, nor can the municipality use it to offset taxation,” Collins informed.
Collins added that this second round of funding is in addition to the $303,400 received by the Municipality of Sioux Lookout in September 2020, under the first round of funding.
In total, the draft 2021 Operating and Capital Budgets proposed an increase in the Municipal Operations budget of $65,899 and an increase in the Capital Projects budget of $331,500, for a total of $397,399 in proposed total taxation, representing a potential 3.5 per cent tax increase.
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance recently shared with The Bulletin, “For the next draft of the budget Council directed Staff to undertake several tasks and revisits, including: review capital projects and prioritize and determine if any projects can be deferred and if any are suitable for longer term debt than payment in one tax year; Council asked Staff to review the operating budget for any additional possible cuts, including Council travel budgets; and Council asked Staff to present a second draft budget early in the New Year.”
Collins concluded, “The Province is planning to release further details in the New Year, regarding the use of this funding, but the underlying objective will remain the same: to offset operating costs and losses in 2020, arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”