Pandemic to reduce District revenues in 2021

Cost savings measures being introduced


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is going to hurt the District of Houston’s revenue stream from its leisure facilities but also provide some cost savings, a financial planning document presented to council Nov. 3 calculates.

Reductions in the use of the leisure centre and the arena could cut revenues next year anywhere from $91,8799 to a worst-case $198,341, the document indicates as senior staffers prepare income and spending plans for next year and beyond.

But a reduction in council and staff travel owing to the pandemic would reduce expenditures over traditional patterns by a projected $116,235.

Overall, with other cost saving measures, the base budget operating deficit from the worst case leisure facility and arena revenue loss would be cut to $37,683, the document estimates.

These and other spending and cost savings projections, along with projected taxation and utility increases, were presented to council Nov. 3 for general guidance leading up to the budget for 2021 and the 2021-2015 longer term financial plan.

The document calls for a 2.7 per cent net property tax increase amounting to $114,980 and a two per cent increase in water, garbage, arena, parks and cemetery user fees and a five per cent increase in sewer fees and in the frontage tax rate for next year’s budget.

Council approved of the overall base budget direction as presented by senior staffers, including the reduction to budget for the worst-case loss of $193,341 from arena and leisure facility revenues.

That figure accounts for a projected 70 per cent leisure facility revenue loss of $157,816 and a projected 50 per cent arena revenue loss of $40,525.

Other budgetary planning includes:

– no changes in service or staffing levels except for arena and leisure service hours due to COVID-19. But sanitizing the arena may require more staffing hours, something not included in the proposed base budget.

– salary, wage, overhead and benefits increases from existing contracts plus a consumer price index bump in mayor and council remuneration will cost $11,870 more in 2021 compared to 2020.

– an increase by two per cent of money being put into various District reserve accounts such as ones to pay for maintenance, equipment replacements, fire department needs and general infrastructure improvements. The sewer capital reserve infusion is to increase by 5 per cent with a 5 per cent increase in sewer user fees.

The budgetary planning document did, however, introduce a cautionary note about the District’s ability to maintain and improve its road network and its buildings.

“Overall, the operating funds remain viable for the short term, but do not allow for significant capital reinvestment or long-term capital planning,” it stated.

Based on existing asset data, the District is not able to meet its infrastructure reinvestment goals utilizing the existing operating budget, and current capital plans will further draw down existing reserves and surplus funds.”

The District’s list of buildings requiring replacement in the years ahead include the community hall and fire hall.

Planning for major projects includes the need to apply for senior government grants.

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read