Hamilton City Hall west face Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

Hamilton City Hall is forecasting a small surplus of $420,000 for 2020, thanks to significant federal and provincial funding supports during COVID. This compares to early deficit forecasts of over $60-million dollars.
Councillors heaped praise upon the Premier and Prime Minister for their support of municipalities.
“I know a lot of us are critical of the Province and Federal government when they are not there for our municipality”, said Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins. “I wanted to publicly thank the Premier and the Prime Minister for living up to their promises. When they said they were going to be there for municipalities, they certainly have come thought”.
Public transit is one of the largest cost centres for municipalities as ridership is significantly down due to people working from home, and others finding different means of travelling. Mass transit’s operating budgets relied heavily upon busy routes, with full seats and standing loads, to be near or slightly above operating cost recovery to balance budgets. The Hamilton Street Railway implemented significant service cuts in March, and is presently operating reduced service.
Higher levels of government have provided $17.2-million in COVID transit funding. The City of Hamilton claims it transit COVID costs are $19-million for March to end of September. Separate one-time COVID transit funding from higher levels of government is expected for post-October service.
The City of Hamilton is receiving $11.4m for social service costs resulting from COVID this year, and $6.8m for the first quarter of 2021. This is primarily being used for housing services supports for homeless and precariously housed individuals.
$27.6m has been committed to the City of Hamilton for COVID operating costs in both 2020 and 2021. The City can apply for additional funds.
The City is expecting to receive additional funds from the Ministry of Health and from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Demand for para-transit is significantly down, and the City is saying $10.6m as a result.
The City saved approximately $7.4m from reduced hiring of students this summer and from a lower than expected number of winter storms in the first months of the year. (Hamilton General Manager of Finance and Corporate Services Mike Zegarac grouped these savings together for some reason)
Recreation closures due to COVID saved the City $7.8m.
The City is drawing on reserves, and financing savings due to delays in projects. Zegarac’s presentation today included another $14.5m in positive variances including these financing changes.
The City may receive additional COVID funding from higher levels of government, the City expects it will need to carry over any surplus to absorb ongoing COVID costs in 2021.

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First published: September 23, 2020
Last edited: September 23, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman
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