Despite no “magic wand” to fix an approximate projected $6-million municipal deficit resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Albert has driven down that loss by nearly half by finding cost savings.
In a monthly update on the state of St. Albert’s finances mid-pandemic, St. Albert city council heard Tuesday the city’s projected 2020 deficit is now looking to be $3.9 million, as a result of mitigation efforts.
According to council’s agenda package, St. Albert has found $2.7 million in efficiencies, through temporary layoffs, elimination of a corporate vacancy pool, redeployment of permanent staff to help fill gaps due to temporary layoffs, no inside worker salary adjustments in 2020 and previously unidentified facility savings such as electricity savings.
Mayor Cathy Heron commended staff for their good work, saying staff have had to make some tough decision.
“(Chief administrative officer Kevin Scoble’s) made some really tough decision and so has all of our staff, and everyone is making sacrifices,” she said. “There’s no magic wand to fix this, and the hard work will come for the seven of us (council) at the end of the year when we do have a deficit ... we’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to cover that off.”
City staff are targeting to reduce expenses overall by seven per cent across every department, and next month’s financial update will include more comprehensive information on further mitigation strategies.
Even as Alberta has begun rolling out its relaunch plan, municipal facilities will not have permission to open until Phase 3, and St. Albert is basing its financial projections on an Oct. 1 opening date for recreation and culture services.
Lost revenue from municipal culture and recreation facilities is making up the bulk of the projected deficit, offset slightly by decreased expenses from closures and program cancellations.