COVID-19 pandemic money left to spend

DOH has three quarters of government funding still remaining

According to a memo, $311,108 of the $592,400 budgeted this year has been spent. (File photo/Houston Today)

According to a memo, $311,108 of the $592,400 budgeted this year has been spent. (File photo/Houston Today)

The District of Houston has about three-quarters of the $1.066 million sent it by the provincial government to buffer any effects of the COVID-19 pandemic left to spend, indicates a briefing memo provided to council by interim finance director Kathleen Day.

The memo, with figures as of Oct. 25, indicates that $311,108 of the $592,400 budgeted this year has been spent, leaving $281,292 unspent. With the $473,600 still to be allocated from the grant, that leaves the District with just over $750,000.

So far, $198,400 of this year’s allocation has been used to buffer the effects of leisure services revenue that was lost when various public health restrictions and protocols forced the closure or severe curtailment of services provided by the leisure services department.

Day told council the exact leisure services shortfall won’t be known until the end of the year and that it may be less than originally forecast.

An anticipated $99,600 expenditure on webcasting equipment to broadcast council meetings and other District events turned into an actual cost of $60,202 once a provider of the equipment had been selected.

To date, $11,923 of the budgeted $67,400 for arena cleaning, following on COVID protocols, has been used.

The District had anticipated spending as much as $87,000 to counter employee absences should any be affected by the pandemic but, said Day, “this program was not implemented as the absence of public works employees was minimal.”

Also set aside was $33,250 for personal protective equipment for employees if the District’s various services and departments but, so far, just $2,081 has been sent.

Council did ask that District staff provide possible uses for the remaining monies as they start to work on budget deliberations for 2022.

Aside from the effects of the pandemic on its own revenues and expenses, the District set aside $100,000 to assist local non profit groups or others who provide assistance programs of one sort or another.

Of that amount, $10,000 went to the community garden program of Houston Link to Learning, $5,400 to support the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249’s shuttle service, $7,780 to a Beanstalk Childcare service expansion and $5,000 to the Silverthorne Elementary school lunch program.

“Durng 2022 budget discussions, the remaining funds as of Jan. 1, 2022 will be available for any expenditures that meet the eligible cost requirements,” said Day.