City of Kelowna cutting costs to reduce economic fallout

Kelowna

The City of Kelowna is tightening its belt to ensure the economy recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

In a video conference Monday Mayor Colin Basran announced their immediate focus is on reducing operating costs.

Basran said staff have been directed to reduce operating budget through the following measures: 

  • Reduce space budgets for non essential and new spending. This includes things like professional consulting, materials and supplies, purchase and contract services, along with other specific area reductions. 
  • A hold on hiring, except for critical positions approved by a city manager. 
  • A hold on non-essential travel and training for staff. 
  • Review capital projects to look at potential deferrals, minimize capital expansion of the Kelowna International Airport and reduce operations reflective of current airline traffic. 

Currently 90 positions with the City are being held vacant and 64 part-time workers have been temporarily laid off as a result of COVID-19.

Kelowna City Manager Doug Gilchrist said they are trying not to increase that number.

“At this point in time we’re doing our best to keep everyone employed with meaningful work and trying not to have layoffs. However, if this persists and there are costs cutting measures needed we may have to take a look further as being fiscally responsible,” said Gilchrist.

The final 2020 budget presented to city council in April will also look different than the one approved in December.

Basran said staff will be reviewing the budget to eliminate non essential projects

“Local governments cannot run a deficit like higher levels of government and must continue to provide many essential services the community relies on including, but not limited to, polices services, fire protection, water, roads and transportation, and solid waste.”

The City is also working on a coordinated plan for businesses in the Central Okanagan to overcome immediate economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.