The Municipality of North Grenville has outlined several focus areas for the use of the COVID-19 Response Reserve. On April 1, council approved the creation of the COVID-19 Response Reserve with the rerouting of approximately $960,000 from the capital projects budget to address the Municipality’s needs during and after the COVID-19 crisis. On April 8, Council also approved a municipal cost containment plan that has allowed the Municipality to include an additional $400,000 in the reserve to further offset forecasted expenses due to COVID-19. The reserve is now sitting at an estimated $1,360,000.
CAO Gary Dyke provided council with a general overview of how some of the money will be spent in the coming months at the special council meeting last week. This includes offsetting revenue loss related to their inability to rent out municipal facilities, representing approximately $135,000. An estimated $75,000 will also be spent on any unbudgeted operating expenses due to COVID-19, which includes technology upgrades to support virtual meetings, increase media buys, and communication initiatives and new signage for municipal outdoor facilities in response to provincial closure orders.
The largest sum of money will be allocated towards programs to support the community. An estimated $290,000 is budgeted to help offset the cost of waiving new penalties and interest charges on deferred property tax accounts, cover additional security measures to help protect closed businesses, and the cost of enhancing the ‘Love NG’ marketing and promotion program to support local businesses.
Gary says the marketing program will be focused on helping educate the public on which businesses are open during the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote the need for the public to familiarise themselves with local businesses once everything is back to normal. “We will bring the business community, council and marketing professionals in to define what the program will look like, and bring the details back to council,” he said.
The total amount accounted for in the current COVID-19 response budget is $500,000, leaving $860,000 in the fund for future initiatives. “We will continue to evaluate programming and look at what needs to be done,” Gary said