Village of Garden City revenues cut due to Covid-19

Garden City Village HallAt its June 18th meeting, the Garden City Board of Trustees heard negative news on its financial picture due to lost revenues and increased expenses related to the pandemic.

Village Treasurer Irene Woo updated the Board of Trustees on revenues vs. expenses in the first seven weeks of the pandemic, through April 30. The village had often heard about a revenue stream generated from the Building Department — covering various permit and application fees — before the pandemic caused stoppages and shutdowns across the country.

“Superintendent of Building Mr. Giovanello explained that he’s seen a lower number of overall applications in April and May, with them picking up a bit so far in the month of June. For year-to-date (through April 30 and for the 2019-2020 village fiscal year) the Building Department revenues were lower than budgeted and for the full year (concluding on May 31) the revenues are forecasted to be about $200,000 lower than budgeted in terms of overall applications. As discussed in May with the Board, there is also a $400,000 deferred revenue from the 555 Stewart Avenue multifamily rental development project that was also delayed — that revenue is anticipated to be received in the month of July 2020,” Woo explained.

Another item of an approximate $200,000 loss in revenues to the Village of Garden City was in its police (ticket, fines and charges) and Village Justice Court revenues. Woo said less tickets were issued due to COVID-19 for parking and traffic violations.

“Police Commissioner Jackson estimates that 90% of reduced tickets issued in April 2020 compared to prior year, April 2019, and that’s a significant decrease. The full year forecast (through May 31, 2020) was for an estimated $200,000 lost in revenues from the 2019-2020 budget,” she explained. Of note, her period for year-to-date totals reported at the Board’s last meeting was June 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020.

Due to Village Recreation & Parks programs being cancelled and facilities closed during the pandemic, for mid-March, all of April and May Woo said there was a halt to any revenues for the village from this key department.

“Last year, in April 2019, Village Recreation received close to $100,000 in revenues and its year-to-date number at $510,000 is flat from the start of spring and what the full budget year will be for Rec. This gives us a budget shortfall of about $286,000 however of that $42,000 was deferred revenues — people had signed up for Rec. programs and activities that would have run this spring, and since those services were not provided those revenues are being deferred until a future date until the services can and will be provided. At that time, those revenues will be recorded in accounting — so about $42,000 is held by the village as credits to be given to residents at a future date (for Rec. programming). That means about $244,000 is a loss for the Recreation Department,” Woo told the trustees on June 18.

On the expense side, covering the last few months of the 2019-2020 Village budget (with a fiscal year ended May 31, now into a second month of the 2020-’21 fiscal year) there’s a bright side to discuss reimbursable costs for the municipality, through FEMA. Such costs could include the deep cleaning and sanitization of Village Hall and municipal vehicles due to COVID-19 as well as PPE including masks and gloves.

Garden City Mayor Theresa M. Trouvé noted that she attends weekly mayors’ meetings with Town of Hempstead officials including Garden City resident, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Donald X. Clavin, and from those forums she’s heard that many expenses incurred — including if the village had to hire a consultant to perform specific work and projects related to the pandemic — would be eligible for reimbursement through the CARES Act.

“Buying a lot of gloves, masks, plexiglass and expenses related to the pandemic, will all eventually be reimbursed,” the mayor stated.

At its June 4 meeting, the Village Board approved the $48,000 purchase of 150,000 3-Ply Masks from Morristown, New Jersey-based vendor Global Geeks, Inc. and these masks are being used at village offices, department locations and facilities including for Garden City Public Library, and the masks are worn by any visitors who are not already wearing a mask upon arrival.

Trustee Stephen Makrinos asked Treasurer Woo whether New York State would be the entity for reimbursements of specific costs related to the pandemic, and Woo said the federal government (FEMA) would be receiving reimbursement requests.

“We are working with FEMA to submit our expenses as they have established guidelines in terms of what expenses are reimbursable. These are very limited and must be specifically related to COVID-19 costs incurred. Several items were purchased specifically to deal with the pandemic, and those are reimbursable expenses….FEMA also came out with new guidelines for reimbursement of any municipal overtimes incurred to COVID-19, including the hire of any temporary employees. We are working with FEMA and we have a FEMA representative, they are developing a process in place and giving us a list of all documentation that’s needed so the village can start the process of submitting for its reimbursements.” Woo said.

Trustee Makrinos asked about reimbursement for “retrofitting” a number of office locations in Village Hall with the plexiglass barriers between employees and the public they serve. Woo says this is another expense and item that can be submitted to FEMA for reimbursement.

Her presentation to the Board and community members on June 18 included costs on either side of the municipal operations through April 30, and specifically the village expenses related to COVID-19 through April 2020 were at $146,000 and increasing. The data shown stated that for the first six to seven weeks after the pandemic caused mass shutdowns to the economy and village activities, Garden City’s expenses for sanitizing and cleanings of village-owned facilities and vehicles was recorded at $97,000; municipal expenses for “cleaning and safety supplies” were at $90,000 and going up, and COVID-19-related village technology expenses were at $21,000 over the first seven weeks.

Deputy Mayor Robert Bolebruch spoke about increased costs and potential for the Garden City Public Library to have unbudgeted pandemic-related measures to plan for including sanitization of books and materials that have been on loan to residents. He noted that preparations for resuming library services with book pick-ups and eventually reopening of the building were still under consideration.

“They will have different challenges than we are going to have in other departments within the village. While we are keeping in mind all the money that is being spent in the municipality’s operations, I think it is important for us to make sure that we take that into consideration. I know (Village Auditor) Courtney Rosenblatt has worked with Library Director Marianne Malagon on this, but let’s make sure that the Board keeps this in perspective as well,” Bolebruch said.

Trustee Brian Daughney noted that Woo’s report delivered on June 18 during the Zoom meeting covers fiscal year 2019-2020, not the first weeks of the new fiscal year that started June 1. Trustee Daughney requested a new, updated set of data to be sent to all trustees by the end of June and for another report on the fiscal standings — including “the totals for all cancelled revenues” for the village due to COVID-19. The majority “of an updated cost schedule, showing us what the village is losing” would largely encumber lost Recreation revenues. Woo agreed to present this updated data and financial tracking to the trustees at their upcoming meeting on Thursday, July 16.

One response to “Village of Garden City revenues cut due to Covid-19”

  1. John E Burke says:

    We all can relate to the additional covid related expenses and revenue shortfalls from building permits and tickets during the pandemic.

    Where is the list of cost savings in furloughs, early retirements and layoffs to offset?

    Most taxpayers would like see that information reported on as well as the complaints that no revenue came into building department for their over inflated permit fees.

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