Every year the mayor, council and senior staff spend hundreds of hours carefully crafting a budget that aims to address the most pressing needs of citizens. This year’s budget has passed but not without some vigorous debate as the mayor, councillors, and staff broke down key decisions.
Chief Administrative Officer for Kawartha Lakes, Ron Taylor, told council recently that while the city is looking forward to reopening on Feb. 16, citizens should expect continued restrictions as the city will likely be designated orange under the current provincial re-opening framework in the continuing battle to limit COVID-19 and its variants’ spread.
The colour orange in the province’s framework means enhanced measures are still in place, there are restrictions on the number of people who can gather at businesses (which get to open again) or in homes, and enforcement while avoiding any closures.
“It has been a couple of months since my last report,” Taylor said, “and this report is in response to the provincial re-opening announcement made on Feb. 8.”
With snowbirds potentially unable to travel to winter homes and cottagers looking to remain in Kawartha Lakes rather than return to their primary urban residences, CAO Ron Taylor and other senior city staff are trying to plan pro-actively for what could be a very unpredictable winter season.
“We are planning ahead to be proactive,” Taylor said, “in the event that seasonal residents who usually head down south decide to stay in Kawartha Lakes.”
CAO for Kawartha Lakes, Ron Taylor, provided cautiously optimistic pandemic and service updates to council at their regular October meeting earlier this week.
He let council know where the province and city are in their response to the pandemic, and what city services are coming back on line as the end of October approaches. Taylor also shared his concerns about the impact to city services if the bulk of seasonal residents do not return home to their primary residences.
Mayors and chairs from across Ontario, represented by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario, and the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, issued a call for action on the COVID-19 financial emergency.
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham echoed the sentiments expressed by Ontario municipalities by saying, “We need immediate provincial and federal support to cover lost revenue and additional costs caused by the COVID-19 crisis.”
Councillors inundated the city’s chief administrative officer, Ron Taylor, at council this week with questions on the return of city services and facilities.
Taylor was delivering his monthly state-of-emergency update but faced questions from nearly all councillors – especially about city services that are not currently being delivered to citizens at pre-pandemic levels.
In a far-reaching press scrum, Mayor Andy Letham and CAO Ron Taylor discussed policing in Kawartha Lakes, their hopes concerning the city deficit, information about aquatic programs and their initial impressions of a return to patio season across the city.
In an exchange with reporters, Letham responded to a question about how the George Floyd incident in the U.S. might impact policing locally.
Letham said that the police budget is approved by the Police Services Board, of which he is a member. Meetings have already begun, “and everyone is being open- minded about the future.”
Mayor Andy Letham and CAO Ron Taylor confirmed recently that the bulk of city staff laid off in April will be called back to work this month.