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EC offers free garbage bags to food bank residents; updates on first quarter finances

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SPENCERVILLE - In a move to help some families find relief from added expense, Edwardsburgh Cardinal Township council is providing one free garbage bag per week to households using the South Grenville Food Bank.

At their regular meeting of Monday, April 27, council voted to give one free bag to each household using the services of the South Grenville food Bank during the current pandemic. This will continue for one month, or until the provincial emergency order ends. If the emergency order is not lifted within one month, council will revisit the motion, which passed unanimously.

The bags will be available through the food bank on Henry Street in Prescott as a way to protect the confidentiality of the client and will not involve the township office staff, who will only receive the number of bags given and not the names of the recipients.

In other council news, Treasurer Melanie Stubbs presented the first quarter financial report, which included a working funds bank balance and a cost-containment plan.

The projected working funds balance as of December 31, 2020 is $1,276,300. That number is similar to the total of December 2017, as that was the last time the township saw substantial losses in income, due to a fire response call which ate up $230,000, related to the 730 Truck Stop fire. Full recovery of those costs occurred in 2018 due to the sale of the property.

This year's numbers are based on the fact that tax payments have been deferred due to COVID- 19 emergency measures. As of April 22, this year the township has received 288 payments which totaled $384,827.55. Another $50,000 is expected through on-line payments, resulting in a total of approximately $400,000.

There are several other revenue sources that are predictable, such as the Federal Gas Tax in July and November, quarterly Port of Johnstown administration fees, arena donations, and the quarterly Stewardship Ontario Recycling Grant.

Current cost-containment actions to date have included minimal overtime for staff and no shift premium. Human resources recruitment is on hold, and if the recreation sites in the township such as pools don't open this summer, there will be no hiring of students.

As well, staff reviewed capital projects of under $50,000 to determine which projects could be deferred until later in the year, or until 2021. These include the town hall stone fence repair at a projected cost of $22,500 and additional fire hall studies adding up to $20,000.

Discretionary purchases that could go on hold were discussed, including a new boardroom table at a cost of $3,000 and repairs to the Cardinal Library ramp at $9,000. There was some dissension about deferring the ramp, but several members of council said they had visited the site in person and the ramp seems solid to them at this time. They plan to review that need at their next meeting.

Also considered discretionary at this time is a $32,400 total cost for Krown rust treatment of fire department vehicles, bunker gear and dress uniform additions, nozzle replacement and SCBA testing, and ladder testing. The cormorant control project at a cost of $4,000 was also deferred until a later date.

Treasurer Stubbs also included a "worst-case scenario" breakdown - trying to predict what shape the township's finances would be in if everything remains closed, chopping off the usual income from the use of recreational facilities, and if only 25 percent of the final tax bill is collected. This projection estimates the year-end tax receivable to be approximately $2,313,800.

For this document, the assumption was made that ball diamonds, the south centre, pools and day camps would not open at all in 2020.

The province has extended the deadline to remit education tax levies until September 30 and this second quarter payment amounts to approximately $628,000 in total to all four school boards. The third quarter payment remittance date has been extended to December, which makes it appear that both the third and fourth quarter payments would be due at roughly the same time, making a serious impact on the township's cash flow.

The predicted saving on hydro costs due to these closures would only amount to a little over $7,700.

Council will continue to study this worst-case projection. They thanked Stubbs for her diligence in the preparation of this package and agreed it is better to be forearmed with regard to what might happen down the road.

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