The Town of Gravenhurst continues to review services and implement measures necessary in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Tuesday’s webcasted Council and Committee of the Whole meetings, a motion was put forward to allocate $25,000 from the Terence Haight Reserve to create a COVID-19 Financial Assistance Fund to assist established community agencies and service clubs that provide financial, mental health, food security assistance (among other services) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion was unanimously approved by Council. Administration will begin working on next steps to make this funding available as soon as possible. Mayor Kelly further announced $55,000 in social services relief funding from the Province being distributed to a number of local community support groups in Gravenhurst.
In a report delivered to Council by Glen Davies, the Chief Administrative Officer, he indicated that Provincial direction and guidelines from the South Muskoka District Medical Officer of Health and Administration’s assessment of risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic would result in a projected $1.2 million revenue shortfall for 2020. Specifically, this is due to:
• Town facility closures, which directly impacts programming and activities in the community (e.g. the Library, Opera House, the YMCA and the Centennial Centre);
• Cancellation of all summer events and programming at Muskoka Wharf and the waterfront for the foreseeable future; and,
• Limitations on the authority and ability to proceed with regular receipt and processing of planning applications and building permits.
Mr. Davies explained that the Town has taken steps to mitigate the financial impact of these projected revenue losses which will result in an estimated $1.7 million in one-time cost-savings. These saving will come from:
• No new hires or filling of any vacancies for the rest of 2020, pending specific approval;
• Cancellation of all student hires for the summer, pending specific approval;
• Immediate freeze on professional development, consulting and other discretionary expenses;
• Estimates of utility and other related savings from facility closures for the majority of the year;
• Adjustments to maintenance costs for vehicles and equipment.
“The end result of reducing the workforce by some 50 staff positions helps the Town respond to the Provincial health directions. This will have a noticeable impact on service levels in the community,” Davies emphasized.
“It is unrealistic to believe that there will be a return to normal before the fall,” added Davies. “For the Town’s purposes, we have assumed that the current state will continue for a period until the end of September and that a transition period of three months would be necessary before a gradual return to normal,” he explained.
In summary, while there will be dramatic reduction in some services, Town operations will see a net savings of $500,000.00 in 2020, based on the mitigations undertaken to date.