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City trims COVID-19 losses to $7 million

Municipal leaders had feared pandemic could cost up to $13 million in 2020
Thunder Bay City Hall
A new report estimates COVID-19 will cost the City of Thunder Bay about $7 million in 2020.

THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay has slashed millions off its estimated losses from the COVID-19 pandemic as it reopens services and finds additional savings, a new report shows.

City leaders had feared the pandemic could cost the municipal government up to $13 million in 2020. City treasurer Linda Evans now pegs that figure closer to $7 million in a financial variance report prepared for city council.

The report, submitted on July 6, does not take into account the city’s move to Stage 3 reopening on July 17.

Overall, the city estimates it will lose out on $15 million in revenue while facing nearly $4 million in additional costs in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Those staggering sums are partially offset by a projected $12.7 million in avoided costs, which have included significant layoffs and facility closures.

The bulk of the projected impact of COVID-19 comes from foregone revenue in the Community Services department, totaling nearly $9 million. That includes nearly $4 million in lost recreation revenue, and over $3 million in lost transit revenue.

Other major contributors include nearly $2.7 million in net losses for the Corporate Services & Long Term Care department, and a nearly $1.2 million net loss at the Parking Authority.

Savings found by the city include a projected $1.4 million on utilities and fuel, $1.2 million on health benefits, and $500,000 from foregoing a wage increase for non-union non-affiliate, and management staff. The city also expects to recoup $800,000 with the recent reintroduction of transit fares. 

Without the pandemic, Evans estimated the city would face an unfavourable variance of just under one million dollars for the 2020 tax-supported budget.

The financial variance report will be received by city council at its Monday meeting.