The County of Prince Edward is announcing their efforts to continually evaluate and respond to the need for economic restraint during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The balancing act between maintaining a staffing compliment and offering the services residents and local businesses rely upon while acknowledging times are difficult in the community due to province-wide Emergency Management Act measures enacted by the Government of Ontario is not lost on the County’s new CAO
“As one of the largest employers in Prince Edward County, we are doing everything we can to limit the impact on our valued employees and their families, while at the same time acting in a manner that is fiscally responsible to our taxpayers,” Chief Administrative Officer Marcia Wallace said.
The municipality noted they will be experiencing cash flow constraints in the coming months as a result of giving people the option to defer their final tax bills until September 15 and November 16 as well as not charging interest or penalties on any unpaid taxes or utility bills.
Additionally, no new tax arrears certificates will be registered on properties in 2020. The municipality is forgoing revenue with all recreation facilities, arenas, and parks closed as well as facing higher costs associated with responding to the crisis.
With an eye to lowering costs, staff are reviewing budgets and work plans in order to reduce discretionary spending and delaying procurement in order to contain costs.
Other efforts include using natural attrition and not extending or renewing seasonal contracts as they come to an end at the end of April or early May. The municipality has put a hold on hiring summer students for the time being.
The municipality announced that they remain committed to delivering all essential services to residents and businesses during the pandemic outbreak.
As well, to encourage proper physical distancing and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, staff are working from home whenever possible and extra precautions are in place to protect those employees who cannot.
The municipality has taken further action in response to COVID-19 by redeploying staff and other resources to enforce the provincial orders related to the closure of non-essential businesses and recreation and outdoor facilities.
Redeployed staff are also helping implement new safety measures at landfills and transfer sites.
Looking toward recover, development services staff are working strategically to move applications forward so that approvals are ready once the development sector is able to resume. Applications are still being accepted for building permits, even for activities that cannot continue under the current provincial orders to speed up municipal responsiveness.
The municipality is continuing with certain critical infrastructure projects as permitted under the province’s essential workplaces provision.
Those projects include: replacement of the Black River Bridge, upgrade to the water towers in Consecon and Bloomfield and various road, water and sewer projects. The municipality is also on track to implement its commitments to improve several rural roads during the summer construction season.