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COVID-19 cost crunch coming for Maritime municipalities
HALIFAX -- Municipalities across the Maritimes are doing what they can to enforce health recommendations and keep their residents safe.
But at a certain point, municipal staff need to worry about the bottom line, and some Maritime municipalities are beginning to plan to how to survive the financial hit of COVID-19.
Halifax regional councillors are hard at work.
Halifax Regional Council held its first virtual meeting on Thursday evening and finances was the hot topic.
"We're going to have look at using our reserves," said Halifax Regional Coun. Waye Mason."Whether or not we're going to run our deficit, how much money are we willing to borrow, and where can we cut some services so we can continue to offer other services."
More than 80 per cent of the city's revenue comes from property tax, which is due on April 30.
In the next council meeting, they will be discussing extending that due date to June.
Halifax's bottom line is also impacted by the loss of $3 million a month in transit fares and recreation fees from municipally owned facilities, making that property tax revenue even more crucial.
"The Halifax Regional Municipality goes through about $100 million a month for staffing and services, so certainly we're asking people if you can pay your property taxes on time, please do it," Halifax Regional Coun. Lisa Blackburn.
Property taxes in New Brunswick are collected by the provincial government, but officials still have questions.
"The province has had some very high-level questions asked of the premier around deferring property tax," said Saint John Mayor Don Darling. "Frankly from a municipality's perspective, our conversation with the province has been asking are we going to receive our property tax for 2020?"
Saint John's first virtual council meeting will be held Monday, and Darling says finances will be a major focus.
"As a municipal government, we have to balance our books," Darling says. "So, if this goes longer than another two or three months, the impacts will be massive, and it will be a lot of work as a staff and a council to dig our way out of the impacts of Covid-19."