Kawartha Lakes budget discussions continue with agency and department goals and requests for 2021

The Council meeting on February 2 provided an overview of the various needs across departments and from the 11 agencies and boards of Council.

Majority of boards and agencies hold budget requests to 2020 levels

All but one of the organizations that carries out services for the municipality have kept 2021 budget requests to 2020 levels. The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit has requested an additional 10% ($200,000) to make up for a decrease in provincial cost-sharing. The funding for mandatory health programs has changed from a provincial-municipal cost-sharing model of 75-25% to 70-30%. Dr. Gemmill, Acting Medical Officer of Health, explained that the services provided range from protection, prevention and promotion, supporting expectant mothers to students and people with lower incomes.

Kawartha Lakes Police Services presented the proposed budget totaling a 1% increase of $123,000. Pressures on the budget include increased cost for one officer formerly funded at the Central East Correctional Centre and a public consultation process that will help shape the future of the Police Service. A project is proposed to renovate headquarters in order to improve health and safety and make most efficient use of the space. The project would begin in 2021 with physical improvements and finish in 2022 with specialized lab equipment.

The Lindsay Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an advocacy group on behalf of the downtown businesses. Their role is to oversee the beautification, improvement and maintenance of the downtown area, marketing and promotion of special events. Member fees make up the majority of the revenue, however the BIA requested continued support from the municipality through a renewal of the $30,000 subsidy for a Community Liaison to oversee parking enforcement, snow removal and ambassadorship. A $10,000 increase decision unit in addition to their annual $30,000 request/grant will be considered under the Community Partnership and Development Fund (50/50 Matching Funds) for the beautification of banners and planters for downtown lampposts that need new materials since the reconstruction project.

Kawartha Conservation represents the largest of four Conservation Authorities that are funded by the municipality. The budget request was decreased from 2020, totaling $1.3 million. Project highlights from 2020 included the Shoreline Stewardship program to improve beach water quality at Omemee Beach and Bond Street Beach in Fenelon Falls. A new joint project is proposed with Durham Region to leverage tree planting programs. Council will deliberate supporting a new Lake Management Plan for Lake Dalrymple, the fifth largest lake in Kawartha Lakes. This four-year plan involves working with stake holders to understand pressures on the lake and determine priorities over multiple years. The cost is $90,000 in 2021.

Kawartha Conservation continues to respond to the pandemic in a variety of ways: adoption of new technology to provide a digital permitting process and tracking capability, reduced permit processing time by 30%, increased surveillance of Ken Reid conservation area to ensure safety, Story Walk program in partnership with the Public Library, Forest Therapy Walks, and a Talking Forest App to be launched in early 2021.

Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton (KLH) Housing Corp presented the positive news of an unchanged subsidy request to the municipality of $2.8 million. While overall housing units have increased by 70 units to 776 in 2020, the subsidy cost per unit of housing has decreased from $4900 to $3600 per unit. Municipal subsidies have decreased over the last five years due to prioritizing energy efficiency, performance management and long term strategic planning. An additional 21 units of housing will be available this spring in Minden.

The Kawartha Lakes Health Care Initiative (KLHCI) shared the needs facing the community of 14.5 family physicians, representing a gap of 33% of residents without a physician locally. In the spring of 2020, Dr. Allison MacKay was recruited and began practice at the Community Health Centre. All physicians have moved to offering virtual care by telephone and/or video in addition to in person care. A virtual tour will be developed to allow ongoing recruitment during the pandemic.

The Kawartha Lakes Library Board reviewed how operations have shifted to providing pick-up services and expanded digital resources. Before the pandemic, 60% of services were delivered digitally, with that number growing to 80% in 2020. The permanent elimination of overdue fines that began in the summer resulted in $9000 revenue loss. The Library strengthened partnerships with Boys and Girls Club and Kawartha Conservation to deliver programming. Early learning resources such as ‘100 Books to Read before Kindergarten’ and STEAM Maker packs have been popular with patrons. An online card application process allows for temporary instant access, along with extended loan periods.

2021 priorities include continued pandemic response to assist residents with quality of life, Bobcaygeon branch relocation and renovation and the Fenelon Falls branch expansion into the adult education area for enhanced programming. The budget request from the tax levy is $2 million.

Additional boards and agencies provided written budget requests that are available on the website. All requests for funding will be deliberated by Council on February 16.

Departmental budget overview highlights accomplishments in 2020 and goals for 2021

Ron Taylor, CAO, provided an overview of common principles applied across all department budgets: break even budgeting, staffing efficiencies and longer term reserve planning to stabilize tax requirements.

“The 2021 budget has been prepared at 2020 pre-pandemic levels except where contractual or other similar commitments exist. To achieve a tax levy that is as affordable as possible for residents in these challenging times, we are leveraging all sources of grants and relief funding and frequently assessing our service delivery as the pandemic unfolds,” commented Taylor. Organization-wide objectives include:

  • Targeting $300,000 in new efficiencies in 2021
  • Filling existing vacancies only, while redeploying staff as needed to meet pandemic response
  • No new staffing positions that require additional tax levy funding
  • Developing a reserve strategy to manage “volatile” budgets such as Winter Control and Insurance, both of which are subject to certain conditions beyond our control
  • Ongoing business continuity planning to support and manage pandemic response and recovery

Pandemic funding of $23.5 million has been received to date, with the majority of funding going toward Safe Restart of municipal services, Ontario Works and child care and housing supports. Council has committed $3 million to recovery through the 2019 surplus. Read more about the Community Pandemic Recovery Fund.

A list of all agency, board and department presentations is available from the February 2 meeting minutes on the website or under the 2021 Budget Presentations section.

Subscribe to the Council Calendar to be notified of the February 16 budget deliberations.

If you have a question about the 2021 Budget, post your question under the questions tab.

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