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COVID-19 costs could linger for Ottawa city hall, former insider warns

If the federal government sheds large amounts of office space, through job cuts and embracing working from home, that could have serious consequences for the city's property tax revenue.
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Ottawa City Hall. OttawaMatters file photo

A former city hall insider warns that the costs of COVID-19 could take a real bite out of the city's finances, both now and into the years ahead.

The concern centres around the fallout, if the federal government undertakes a drastic spending reduction program once the pandemic passes.

"That could impact the property tax base on the residential side, over the longer-term," said Walter Robinson, a former chief of staff to Mayor Larry O'Brien in the mid-2000s. "Over the medium-to-longer-term ... some of those commerical assessments are built and based on the revenue-generating potential of properties."

Robinson says if the federal government sheds large amounts of office space, through job cuts and embracing working from home, that could have serious consequences for the city's property tax revenue.

"If you are going to hollow out the downtown core ... having a lot of Class A and Class B space available, if you're going to have shopping malls that don't come back to what they used to be, the assessment base on those properties declines, then the property taxes decline," Robinson told The Rob Snow Show on 1310 NEWS.

The city has said it is currently losing about $1-million per day, as a result of lost revenues in transit fares and user fees from community centres and recreation programs. 




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Jason White

About the Author: Jason White

Jason is an award-winning reporter on 1310 NEWS.
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