The City of Kawartha Lakes council has adopted the 2018 operating budget which sets the base for the next 10 years – and Mayor Andy Letham says citizens can expect to see noticeable improvements in many local services.
“Residents can rest assured that the City will see tangible improvements to what they value most,” says Letham, including “good roads, community safety, arenas, parks, libraries (and) a healthy environment.”
The total amount required from taxation to support City operations next year is $107,766,256 million, an increase of 3.25 per cent over 2017. The City points out this is well under the forecasted increase of 4.5 per cent as outlined in the financial plan.
“Council is following the course that we’ve charted under the ten-year financial plan,” says Letham.
“This is very exciting because we’ve done exactly what we set out to do. We’ve researched, strategized and come up with a smart plan. And we’re sticking to the plan…all while paying reasonable taxes,” the mayor says.
Next year’s budget is the first one adopted under the new ten-year financial plan. It marks a turning point in the way the municipality plans for the future and takes into account many factors that will impact sustainability, including the long term costs to maintain aging City assets.
The priority is to preserve the long term financial health of the municipality while providing predictability and affordability for residents.
Together with the capital budget approved earlier this year, the operating budget aligns with the City’s phased in approach to achieving sustainability. Over the next 10 years, the City will eliminate the $30 million in infrastructure deficit, stabilize taxes to a cost of living level and replenish capital reserves.
In 2018 alone, $2 million dollars is going into reserves to take care of capital needs, emergencies and to leverage any opportunities that arise over the year such as new government grants.
“There were many pressures on the budget this year including additional winter control costs, investment in enhanced road maintenance and rising WSIB premiums,” says Ron Taylor, chief administrative officer.
There was also a reduction of $440,000 in funding requested from the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corporation which assisted in lessening City financial pressures.
The water and wastewater operating budget was approved within the City’s operating budget and included a three per cent increase for citizens who use municipal water and wastewater.
The task of supporting all 21 water systems and six wastewater systems across the municipality is becoming more affordable, says the City, due to increased staffing efficiencies and more government funding. The increase was originally forecasted at 4 per cent.