Safe Restart funding to help municipalities with the financial impacts of COVID-19 is a much-needed relief for municipalities and good news for New Brunswick’s citizens.
In a letter sent November 6 2020, Local Government and Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain told New Brunswick’s Mayors the Provincial and Federal governments will provide financial support through the Safe Restart Agreement to cover COVID-19 related expenses incurred by local governments. Municipalities were asked to submit a resolution of council which clearly outlines the net impact of COVID-19 in 2020, including COVID-19 specific costs, losses, and operational savings.
“Municipalities can’t just kick the financial ball down the road by running ongoing deficits. That means municipal losses due to COVID-19 could have meant increased taxes, cuts to critical local services, or cancelled infrastructure projects, all of which could hurt the province’s economic recovery and people who are already struggling due to the pandemic,” says UMNB President Alex Scholten.
“The Safe Restart funding is a much-needed relief for municipalities that have been ensuring essential services throughout the pandemic, and that’s great news for our citizens.”
Municipalities’ non-tax revenues dried up during the pandemic lockdown, including from transit, recreation, facility rentals, and more. COVID-19 also caused unexpected expenses, including for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health and safety measures.
New Brunswick’s municipalities will have lost a projected $17.5+ M by year end, including unrecoverable lost revenues and unforeseen costs, based on surveys of all 104 municipalities. Per provincial legislation, municipalities cannot run ongoing operating deficits or access additional sources of revenue.
On October 30 2020, the province announced about $1.6 million in funding to cover COVID-19-related losses for municipal transit systems through the Safe Restart Agreement.
The Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick is a bilingual association of 60 member municipalities of all sizes and both official languages, representing over one third of New Brunswick’s population.
For more information, please contact:
Margot Cragg, UMNB Executive Director, (506) 476-5641, firstname.lastname@example.org