Senior City of Vancouver staff have issued reassuring words about civic finances in the wake of a provincial relief package for businesses and local governments.
In a news release, the top official, Sadhu Johnston, bluntly declared that the city is financially stable and is not facing bankruptcy.
He made the comment in connection with a city announcement yesterday that management and nonunionized employees would take an unpaid day off in each 10-day period to save approximately $7.5 million.
That's on top of layoff notices that have been given to 1,800 unionized staff, restrictions on new hiring and travel, and a review of the 2020 capital budget.
"These are temporary measures taken in unusual circumstances so that we can overcome these hurdles and get through this together," Johnston said. "We appreciate the hardship the many residents and businesses are facing and we remain concerned regarding the impacts on the City if tax payers are unable to pay their 2020 taxes.”
Four days ago, Mayor Kennedy Stewart raised the prospect of the City of Vancouver's "insolvency".
The mayor suggested that this could occur if the provincial and federal governments didn't provide financial assistance or if the city didn't liquefy assets and exhaust reserve funds.
Today, the B.C. government announced that local governments can make interest-free loans from their capital reserves to offset operating expenses.
The province also allowed municipalities to carry debt for an additional year, plus they can delay handing over school-tax remittances until the end of the year to help their cash flows.
These moves were welcomed by Patrice Impey, the City of Vancouver's general manager of finance, risk, and supply chain management.
“The delay of the school tax payment in particular will be a significant help for Vancouver," she said, "and we are assessing the rest of the tax measures announced today to determine what additional tools we will have at our disposal.”
Those other measures including allowing most commercial property tax bills to be reduced by 25 percent. In addition, late-payment penalties or several classes of commercial penalties won't be imposed until October 1, giving the owners more time to organize their finances.