Kimberley Council discusses use of COVID-19 Safe Restart grant funds

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Kimberley City Council and staff were already well into budget deliberations when they received the welcome, but unexpected, news of an over $2 million COVID-19 restart grant.

In a report to Council, Chief Financial Officer Jim Hendricks said that he anticipated that $250,000 of those funds would be spent before the end of 2020, with the rest ($1,837,000) being spent in 2021.

The intent of the funding is to support local governments as they deal with higher operating cots and lower revenue due to COVID-19.

It may be used for:

• addressing revenue shortfalls;

• facility reopening and operating costs;

• emergency planning and response costs;

• bylaw enforcement and protective services like fire protection and police;

• computer and other electronic technology costs to (improve interconnectivity and virtual communications);

• services for vulnerable persons (e.g. persons living with disabilities; mental illness or addictions, persons experiencing homelessness or other vulnerabilities); and

• other related costs.

Mayor Don McCormick said that the full impact of COVID in terms of finances hadn’t been felt yet, but that having this reserve would make sure the city wasn’t caught.

Coun. Sandra Roberts commented that looking at the list, she was surprised at how much had been spent so far.

Senior managers were to look at their departments to identify where the funding would be needed.

Quite an extensive list of areas where there has been some funding shortfall, or revenue loss, or some action needs to be taken, has been assembled.

It includes:

Aquatic Centre user fees lost due to facility shutdown

Civic Centre user fees lost due to facility shutdown

Marysville Arena user fees lost due to facility shutdown

Centennial Hall user fees lost due to facility shutdown

Fire Training Program revenue shortfall

Facility Reopening and Operating Costs

Fire Department – recover Call-Force staffing costs already incurred

City Hall – recover supply and facility retrofit costs already incurred (PPE, plexiglass, etc.)

City Hall – improve security at front entrance in Council Chambers

City Hall – new entrance for staff including new door and security systems

City Hall – space planning/renovations to accommodate staff additions while allowing for recommended social distancing

Aquatic Centre – renovate existing entrance/exit

Aquatic Centre – install exit door in multi-purpose room, adjust exit access and landscaping

Aquatic Centre – install roofing on pergola area over new exit (safety)

Aquatic Centre – purchase floating pool dividers

Aquatic Centre – add a shower next to the steam room and another at the misting station

Aquatic Centre – purchase plastic bins for temporary storage of patron’s personal items

Aquatic Centre – purchase free standing automated hand sanitizing stations

Public Works Yard – renovate main hallway to create additional space for social distancing

Public Works Yard – renovate to create space for an office for the Parks & Facilities Manager

Public Works Yard – expand the existing lunchroom as it’s currently too small to socially distance more than 10 employees. Currently there are 28 employees + casuals working at the yards. With potential staff additions the total # of employees utilizing this area could be 40+.

Retrofit City facilities with touchless taps, paper towel dispensers, urinals and toilets

Various City Facilities – install hand wash stations

Various City Facilities – review janitorial contract and potentially enhance current service levels to meet COVID-19 protocols

Various City Facilities – upgrade HVAC systems to improve air exchange (if deemed necessary)

Council Chambers – recover hardware and software costs already incurred in relation to the broadcasting of Council Meetings

Council Chambers – audio visual equipment assessment and upgrades to enhance current Council Meeting broadcasting capabilities

Link the online meeting broadcast to the iCompass electronic agenda

IT upgrades to enhance current virtual meeting capabilities

IT hardware/software investment to support remote working and emergency response and resiliency (i.e. back up power systems, additional laptops, additional headsets)

Platform to enhance online payment options for the public and allow for the online completion and submission of permit and license applications

Funding for electronic records management (scanning of records) to support remote working

Enhance “Tap” payment capabilities at City Hall and recreation facilities

Mental health and wellness training/support for staff

Subscription to software that would facilitate enhanced email communication to the public (e.g. emergency notifications, City newsletter)

Temporary outdoor rink in one of the ball fields in Marysville

Heaters for the Platzl to enable the public to spend more time outdoors in the cooler months

Renovations/upgrades to accommodate social distancing at the 2022 municipal elections