THE CITY of Greater Bendigo is not out of the woods yet amid COVID-19 hits to its bottom line during a spring of Victorian lockdowns.
Exactly how much damage has been done to income from lost events, fees and charges is still to be presented to councillors but it will be noticeable when that report begins circulating in the next month or so, council staff say.
The council reduced its expectations by $4.69 million last financial year as events when cancelled, fees were waived and demand for things like paid car parking dropped.
The council had hoped to see that figure dragged back up by $4.3 million this financial year but delta outbreaks have caused complications, financial strategy manager Nathan Morsillo said.
"So far, we are one quarter of the way through the financial year and it's been more like 2020 than what we thought it would be like in 2021," he said.
The council has made savings to help weather the pandemic and the 2021/22 budget has flexibility to deal with unexpected complications, Mr Morsillo said.
"At the same time, we didn't have that income coming in," he said.
"It is something we are monitoring and it will make next year's budget that extra little bit more challenging, the longer things like lockdowns go on."
There is no guarantee that COVID-19 will stop limiting the council's income even as Victoria enters a new stage of its pandemic response by lifting all lockdowns.
Tourist draw cards like the 2022 Easter Fair remain up in the air as organisers try to work out practicalities of holding parades.
Bendigo's council is not as exposed as some of its counterparts in Melbourne, in part because it relies more on other income streams that have been more stable during the pandemic, Mr Morsillo said.
Those councils had also lost more from car parking fees because of strict lockdowns in their business centres, he added.
Many of the losses Bendigo's council has experienced have been offset. If you don't hold an event you can avoid the cost of organise it, for example.
But COVID-19's impacts go deeper than the $4.3 million of money that will not turn up in the council's coffers.
On Friday, chief executive Craig Niemann warned that it was inevitable that community services would keep being impacted by COVID-19.
He pointed to maternal health workers who were forced to isolate themselves last week when a Maiden Gully early learning centre was declared a tier one exposure site.
The workers were operating out of the same building
"This role is not easily replaced, so when we have staff shortages in this area we temporarily prioritise appointments with new babies and vulnerable children and reschedule appointments for older children," Mr Niemann said.
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