PITT MEADOWS, BC – The City continues to prioritize essential services and has taken several measures to ensure financial prudence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We activated our Emergency Operations Centre on March 16 and mobilized quickly to ensure the safety of the community and to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Staff and Council continue to work hard to meet the community’s needs and ensure that essential services are maintained, while managing municipal finances effectively.”
The City has taken the following measures to reduce spending:
- redeploying parks and recreation staff to the Bylaw Task Force;
- releasing 47 part-time, auxiliary and temporary staff (the equivalent of 15 full-time staff);
- realizing savings due to travel and conference restrictions;
- suspending exempt salary increments and Council cost of living increases;
- cancelling all staff training and professional development; and
- implementing a hiring freeze (the equivalent of five full-time staff) with a few required exceptions.
Council is working extremely hard for Pitt Meadows and continues to attend to regular City business through virtual conference calls. Council is also working closely with regional bodies such as TransLink, Metro Vancouver and EComm where they are actively involved and undertaking a significant amount of advocacy work, coordination and decision-making to protect the health, welfare and quality of life for the community.
A number of Council members and staff have taken on new roles in a variety of areas including: the Economic Recovery Task Force to help support local businesses as well as the Community Check-In Task Force to support youth, seniors and vulnerable citizens.
Council introduced the COVID-19 Financial Relief Grant, a one-time grant for residential taxpayers that will cover this year’s entire combined property and utility tax increase for the average single-family home of 4.52 per cent, bringing the increase to zero per cent. Through this grant program, a single-family home is eligible for $150 and a multi-family home would be eligible for $100. The grant will be automatically applied to every tax account with a Class 1 Residential designation when taxes are paid.
Operations and parks crews are working to ensure the City’s drinking water, sanitation water, drainage and critical infrastructure are maintained and monitored. Remaining staff are working remotely with many employees taking on a substantially increased workloads due to the impacts of COVID-19.
“We are focusing on delivery of core municipal services such as police, fire, clean water and waste water, maintenance of roads and bridges and waste collection, while responding to shifts in priorities and being financially prudent,” said Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts.
Capital projects updates
In addition to staffing changes, the City has carefully reviewed all of the approved 2020 capital projects and identified a number of projects, which could be cancelled, postponed or completed with a reduced scope. During a first phase of review, staff identified $1 million in projects for cancellation or scope reduction, which will enable the City to offer a grant to residential homeowners to ease the financial burden of COVID-19.
The South Bonson Roundabout project will be postponed, and only minor safety improvements, such as removing shrubbery to improve vehicle and pedestrian sightlines and crosswalk installation, will be completed.
The City is moving forward with the Fire Hall Replacement Project, which is needed and designed to meet safety requirements and future demands. The Fire Hall Replacement Project is being funded through City reserves, and therefore does not impact property taxes. Fire Services have been temporarily relocated to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport (YPK) for the duration of construction.
“The City continues to be diligent with annual reserve contributions, which are essential to replace capital assets and ensure our long-term financial viability and ability to continue to provide excellent services to the community in the future” said Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts.
A second capital project review will be completed over the coming weeks to determine the feasibility of postponing additional projects.
These measures are part of the City’s ongoing efforts to provide support and services to the community, maintain a balanced municipal budget, consider employee health and wellness, and position the community for recovery once the physical distancing requirements are lifted by the Provincial Health Officer.
Contacting the City
While City Hall is closed to the public, we are still open for business. Our eServices provide online access to City accounts and services 24 hours per day, seven days per week at mypittmeadows.com. Customer Services can also be reached by email email@example.com or phone 604-465-5454 during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
Visit pittmeadows.ca/COVID19 to find out more.
For more information please contact:
Manager of Communications & Community Engagement
City of Pitt Meadows