Petrolia cuts capital projects keep 2020 budget in check

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Petrolia will delay capital projects to help deal with a deficit created by revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Administrative Officer, Rick Charlebois, submitted a report to council about the measures taken to deal with the fast-paced changes brought about by COVID-19.

The report says even with cancelling the season which puts a stop to most of the spending, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, has a $151,000 deficit. The report shows with the cancellation of the season, the VPP will spend $1,259,033 less than anticipated since there are no performers to pay and sets to build.

Any costs already incurred will be transferred to the 2021 season. The $151,000 deficit will be covered by the VPP reserve. Charlebois says the town is also anticipating some financial help from upper levels of government for the theater.

The town has also delayed about $184,000 in projects, everything from holding off on putting up a new entrance sign on Oil Heritage Road near Waste Management, to delaying the engineering work for Victoria Hall’s $9.2 million renovation pegged at $100,000.

The plan also calls for all road repaving – valued at $454,062 – to be put on hold. Charlebois says the plans will remain in place, and if the federal and provincial governments roll out infrastructure programs to get people working again, the town will apply for funding to complete the work.

One project which will move ahead is the reconstruction of Wingfield Street. Work there is expected to begin in July.

And there will be at least one area where spending increases. The town plans to spend about $13,883 in marketing to put together a plan to promote local merchants who have been deeply affected by the two month shutdown and the shuttering of the theatre for the summer. Restaurants and shops are expected to feel the effect since 40,000 tourists will be staying home this year.

Charlebois says the staff has already started tracking costs related to COVID-19 and plan to apply for any special funding to help cover the extras.

The report also gave an indication of when the municipal administrators think the province will open up some key assets. Charlebois report suggests that minor hockey and figure skating will be up and running as usual in the fall and his plan assumes the community recreation centre, run by the Y, will reopen in July. He based that on the fact other provinces plan to open gyms in June.

None of the councillors commented on the directions the administrator had already taken and Councillor Marty Souch, who was going to ask for a similar report at Monday’s meeting, says he’s satisfied the administrators have done what is necessary for now.