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.
It was perhaps the most divisive political debate in this area since self-government in 1863. Amalgamation — the forced bringing together of the constituent parts of the old Victoria County 20 years ago this month – is a word that still triggers much debate and tests professional relationships to this day.
The fissures still run deep, particularly amongst those over the age of 50. Many knowledgeable individuals who were there two decades ago have died, developed sudden political amnesia, or refused to become engaged in a retrospective of an issue they wish would just disappear.
By a unanimous vote, council endorsed a report from senior staff that recommended against the return to taxpayers of the $3 million surplus from the 2019 budget in the form of a tax rebate.
Council instead endorsed a proposal that the money be put into corporate reserves for pandemic recovery and support.
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.
Ward Eight councillor Tracy Richardson took centre stage this week pushing aggressively for city bylaws to be created as soon as possible to manage the burgeoning marijuana grow-op business in Kawartha Lakes.
Richardson said one of these operations is currently under construction with others being contemplated. She shares that the city receives 2-3 calls a day from individuals looking to cultivate within city limits.