New insights into the economic effects of COVID-19 on Enderby’s recreation show a year of revenue losses, partly offset by decreases in service-related expenses.
A Jan. 15 memo by Jennifer Bellamy, chief financial officer for the City of Enderby, provides an overview of the city’s 2020 financial summary concerning parks and recreation, and sets the stage for the use of funds from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grants that were distributed throughout B.C. late last year.
About $45,700 in revenue losses are attributed to the pandemic in the memo. Baseball field rentals accounted for the biggest revenue loss, bringing in just $680 last year compared to the expected $16,500.
“(COVID-19) has impacted the ability to provide recreation, which has significantly decreased revenues, and it has created an additional expense in relation to reopening, sanitation and safety,” Bellamy’s memo states.
The City’s Emergency Operations Centre has been working with the parks department and recreation services to “pivot all aspects of parks and recreation,” Bellamy noted.
“From safety and sanitation, to scheduling and staffing, profound changes had to be implemented quickly to manage the risks and uncertainty.”
Fortunately, while recreation-based revenues were down significantly, the city’s expenses decreased by an even larger margin. Bellamy attributes this to staff’s cautious approach to operational expenses amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, and to the fact that there were fewer services to fund during previous and ongoing shutdowns of services.
Just shy of $13,000 was saved in recreation management and arena wage expenses, while about $20,000 was saved in overall programming, for a total of roughly $48,000 in savings in 2020.
However, Bellamy notes that while revenue losses will likely remain the same, the expense amounts will increase as there are still some invoices to come in and year-end accruals haven’t yet been completed.
And as the CFO also notes, what won’t show up as a line item is the opportunity costs associated with the pandemic.
“There have also been countless hours provided by management and contractors to prepare safety plans, reopening plans and respond to the ever-changing provincial orders that have not been reflected in the summary,” the memo reads.
City staff have worked to reduce operating costs, and while variable expenses have decreased, the memo notes that other fixed costs have not.
The city also spent $1,744 on extra cleaning and PPE supplies last year, an amount that may change as staff are still reviewing 2020 expenses and invoices.
The city now needs to request approval for federal and provincial Safe Restart funding. The funds can be used to address revenue shortfalls and cover safety enhancement spending throughout the pandemic.
Based on the 2020 cost apportionment, $20,550 could be requested from the City and $26,987 could be requested from the RDNO, Bellamy said, adding the exact amount to be requested should be known by budget time in February.
COVID-19 will continue to have financial impacts in 2021 and “possibly in future years,” and Bellamy’s memo recommends that council request Safe Restart Grant funding in 2022 as well to avoid losses being passed on to taxpayers.
The CFO memo recommends that council be asked to set aside Safe Restart funding for Fortune Parks.
The memo is planned for discussion at the Enderby and District Services Commission meeting today (Jan. 20).