City postpones budget meeting following state of emergency

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The City of North Bay cancelled its scheduled budget meeting Tuesday following the announcement of more province-wide restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 infections.

City communications officer Gord Young said the special committee meeting of council to discuss the budget would be rescheduled to a later date following the news the Ontario government had declared another state of emergency and would put in place a stay-at-home order Thursday.

In an email to The Nugget, Young said Mayor Al McDonald and senior staff “have had to divert their attention to today’s announcement in order to review the details and determine the impact on our operations.”

Council was set to approve its 2021 tax levy, or the amount required to run the city, last month at nearly $97 million, an increase of more than $3.1 million or 3.36 per cent over the 2020 budget.

However, council chose to delay its passing after staff uncovered a system glitch on the part of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board that saw the city’s rate reduced when it shouldn’t have been, creating a more than $800,000 shortfall.


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The amount includes a shortfall at the North Bay Police Service, which factored in a rate reduction in its budget, as well.

The WSIB mishap adds 0.86 percentage points to the levy, for an increase of 4.22 per cent over 2020.

Following the news, council initially planned to meet Jan. 4 to discuss the budget, with the goal of approving it on Jan. 12.

The budget meeting was instead scheduled for Jan. 12. Council is now scheduled to meet next Thursday for a special meeting and on Jan. 26 for a regular meeting.

The Ontario government announced that starting Thursday, residents will be required to remain at home except for certain activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health-care services, exercise, or work that can’t be done remotely.

Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to five people at most, with limited exceptions, and wearing a mask or face covering outside is now recommended when unable to physically distance by more than two metres.

Hours of operation for all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, will be limited to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The restricted hours do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants doing takeout or delivery.

Non-essential construction also is further restricted, including below-grade construction, except for surveying.