Proposed $7 million boost for roads, arenas, more in 2018

By Roderick Benns

City of Kawartha Lakes’ Chief Administrative Officer Ron Taylor has proposed another $7 million investment in capital works projects for the City for 2018, such as for roads and arenas.

In outlining the general direction for the 2018 budget, Taylor and his staff described the 2018 budget as the first step in the roll-out of the 10 year financial plan that was adopted by Council this year.

“Part of the good news is we are proposing to invest $7 million more in replacement capital works than last year,” says Taylor.

“This will help to relieve the backlog of needs across the City on projects such as upgrading arenas and other facilities ($2.8 million), roads ($2.9 million), fleet ($1.5 million) and equipment ($309,000) to ensure all services are delivered smoothly,” he says.

The City is also building reserves for emergencies and beginning to “save for a rainy day,” says Taylor, something that hasn’t been possible for quite some time.

Adam Found, manager of corporate assets, explains that while Council has adopted the 10 year financial plan, it is a living document that allows for flexibility as needed over time. The $25 million debenture (long term loan) provides a tax-supported capital reserve to draw from. The debenture will be paid down over 10 years, with the first four years seeing the largest impact once aging buildings, fleet and assets are brought up to a more stable maintenance level.

The plan includes a 4.5 per cent tax levy increase over each of the first four years, with a reduction in the following years.

On the operating side of the budget, Carolyn Daynes, treasurer, explains that operating pressures include an unavoidable 2 per cent inflation on utilities and other goods, an estimated growth assessment of 1 per cent and scheduled repayment of the $25 million debenture of $2.9 million.

Also among the pressures are increasing Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) costs, due to new inclusions of “presumptive illnesses” affecting the City’s first responders, such as cancer and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

An additional $1 million has been proposed for winter control on roads and sidewalks. Just as it was in 2017, winter control expenditures were the number one contributor to the operating deficit.

On the revenue side, the municipality is on track to almost double the 2017 target for municipal land sales of $640,000, bringing in over $1 million to reserves. The City is also on track to meet or exceed the projected 1 per cent increase in tax revenue due to assessment growth. New development and expansion across the City has been building at a brisk pace and shows signs of continuing well into the future.

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