The mayor’s not-so-hidden agenda

By Lindsay Advocate

There’s a financial reckoning coming for Kawartha Lakes, as Mayor Andy Letham sees it. The city does too much for its residents with not enough money to pay for everything.

It’s a belief that Letham has talked about pre-COVID, but we’ve noticed how he has been repeating this mantra, in different ways, but with more frequency and urgency than ever before. Is it a much-needed attempt to steer council toward more fiscal conservatism?

When Advocate publisher Roderick Benns hosted “Kawartha Lakes Matters,” a YourTV program, from early 2019 to early 2020, more than once Letham mentioned that he thought the city was doing too much. He mused then about garbage pickup perhaps needing to go to twice a month, instead of weekly, as an example of cost savings the city could undertake. He’s repeated that idea since then.

(Note to all newcomers: Stop asking where the green bins for food waste are, which everyone who moves here from Durham Region or Toronto wonders. This city is more likely to reduce services than add them.)

During a recent committee of the whole meeting, Letham again brought up how much the city does, and this time, libraries and community halls were also on his cost-saving radar.

“We have a business model we cannot afford,” he said at a recent meeting. “We have too many arenas, service centres, libraries and community halls. We could reduce services. Why are we servicing private roads when we can’t service the ones we own?”

We’re wondering – as should all Kawartha Lakes residents – how seriously we should be taking the mayor’s increasingly clear message? And how many councillors will he have on side one year before the next municipal election?

This is the mayor’s last year in office and perhaps he’s simply being the pragmatist he has always been. This is an era of bigger government around the world. We don’t know yet if there is the possibility of more federal help coming, and neither does the municipality. But we wonder if we need to be in a rush to close up arenas and libraries just yet.

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