City ended 2021 with nearly $2.5M surplus

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The City of Windsor managed to make it through the pandemic’s second year under budget thanks to belt-tightening and millions of dollars in government help, but officials still hope the province and the federal government will step in to cover tunnel and airport deficits.

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According to the 2021 Year-End Operating Budget Variance Report that went to council last week, the city ended the year with an operating surplus of $2.49 million.

“The fact that we’re able to mitigate the COVID variance entirely from a municipal level, that’s good news,” Tony Ardovini, the city’s deputy treasurer of financial planning, told the Star.

Costs from the COVID pandemic that year totaled $35.7 million. Combined with forgone revenues ($35.6 million), the pandemic’s financial impact on the city was $71.3 million. That figure was offset by $15 million in “reduced expenditures” as a result of “mitigation measures taken by the city, as well as $53.7 million in grant funding from senior levels of government, leaving a pandemic impact of $2.6 million for city departments.

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Departments furthest in the red from COVID included public works (down about $2.6 million), on-off street parking revenues (down roughly $1.4 million), and licensing and enforcement (down around $538,000) — largely due to provincial offenses and bingo revenue that was ‘t achieved.

But those losses were offset by savings and revenues in other departments, including transit ($792,839), employment and social services ($1.56 million), planning ($793,151), and corporate accounts ($2.49 million) which saw “better than expected” interest and penalties on taxation, Ardovini said.

The staff report reflects the 2021 municipal budget but excludes “government business enterprises,” namely the Windsor Detroit Tunnel Corp. and YQG Windsor International Airport, which have unfunded COVID-related deficits approximating $10 million.

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That’s separate from the $25 million in pandemic costs projected for 2022, which would be the equivalent of adding five percentage points to tax bills without help from the province or Ottawa. The city has asked the province to renew emergency funding for municipalities offered in partnership with the federal government in 2020.

What will the city do with its nearly $2.5 million operating budget surplus? Council last week directed city administration to transfer $750,000 into the capital improvement plan grant reserve fund. About $790,000 is being transferred to the budget stabilization reserve fund, while $950,000 will go to “additional expenditures” listed by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens during the May 9 council meeting. They are theming and districting in Sandwich Town, downtown, Ford City, Riverside BIA, and Wyandotte Town Center; a study report on new multi-use path trails around Roseland Golf and Curling Club; a report on the design of a path trail system and future cricket pitch at Derwent Park; a feasibility study and designs for parking lot and sports field improvements at Walker Homesite Park; and a report on the design of a path trail system for the South Cameron Woodlot.

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