Councillors take out the axe to limit deficit but City Hall still facing $13.5M hole
LONDON, ONT. -- City council got an update Tuesday about the deepening financial hole created by the COVID-19 pandemic and despite approving a long list of cost cutting measures a multi-million dollar shortfall will remain.
Budget Chair Josh Morgan was blunt Tuesday about the massive shortfall looming in City Hall's 2020 budget caused by the pandemic.
“We're going to have a deficit, a significant deficit by the end of August, and that's if we take all of these measures,” said Morgan.
In a new report, the treasurer recommends delaying projects and further reducing services to offset some of the lost revenue.
They include less tree planting and delaying park upgrades and a bike share program.
The size of the projected deficit by the end of August is a moving target, having changed significantly since the treasurer's report came out less than a week ago.
Tuesday council approved all the recommended belt-tightening measures but City Hall still faces a $13.5 million deficit by Aug. 31.
Even if the treasurer redirected all tax assessment, growth revenue from new construction towards the financial hole a multi-million dollar shortfall will remain.
“We are just a few months into this problem. We are very fortunate that we've been able to contain a lot of the costs, so far, but that is putting us in a real difficult position,” said Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
City staff and the mayor continue to lobby the senior levels of government for a bailout to avoid even deeper cuts to services Londoners rely on.
“The sacrifices we are asking Londoners to go through, even with all that it still isn't enough. We need their support. We need it now,” said Mayor Ed Holder.
The city treasurer will estimate the year-end deficit in a report coming in September.