VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Wednesday applauded City of Vancouver staff, unions, residents, and businesses for coming together through the pandemic and helping stabilize the City’s financial picture despite unprecedented fiscal pressures due to measures undertaken to battle COVID-19.
Stewart’s comments came as the City released its annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) report detailing the City’s financial picture for the previous year. The report shows a massive drop of nearly $90 million in operating revenues for 2020.
“Things looked very bleak a year ago when I joined mayors from across the country to sound the alarm about the immense fiscal toll COVID-19 was having on local government budgets,” said Stewart. “And it wasn’t just cities that were dealing with this uncertainty, many residents and businesses were also unsure of what the pandemic would mean for their families or employees.”
“The City took immediate action to reduce expenses by making extremely difficult decisions including laying off 1,800 staff and directing management and Council to take 10 percent pay cuts. We also deferred $250 million in key capital projects, and, due to early concerns about property tax defaults, we delayed payment deadlines to give residents and businesses more breathing room,” he added.
“Thanks to the hard work of our City’s Leadership Team, staff, and local unions and with support from senior levels of government, our financial position is now looking much more positive.”
Stewart said: “All this said, we’re not out of the woods yet While our current financial position is encouraging – including managing to maintain our triple-A credit rating – the impact of COVID-19 is still not behind us and we must continue to make prudent financial decisions that support a safe and successful reopening. 2021 will be another year of tough decisions.”