Kawartha Lakes Council approves lowest tax increase in over a decade
On February 16, Council deliberated the 2021 Water and Wastewater Budget, Special Projects Budget and Operating Budget. Council received a record of all public questions that were submitted on the Jump In Kawartha Lakes website. In total, 630 residents visited the 2021 Budget project page, 104 residents downloaded information and 23 questions were answered.
As requested by Council, Jennifer Stover, Director of Corporate Services, provided a report with a variety of options for Council to consider in order to reduce the tax levy. Going into deliberations, the tax levy increase was at 3.84%. Options included leveraging provincial modernization funding ($300,000), allocating Safe Restart funds to cover projected lost revenues and pandemic costs ($836,000), applying the 2020 surplus to certain area rates ($365,000) and using established reserve funds ($131,000). Once all these options were applied, Council unanimously chose to further offset forecasted pandemic costs using the Safe Restart funding, which in turn reduced the 2021 levy increase to 1.5%.
Mayor Letham commented, “This gives residents a much needed, one-time break. It’s a responsible budget that maintains service levels, keeps reserves healthy and gives us some options to consider in the fall once we know the impact of the pandemic. We have leveraged the provincial funding wisely and will be able to give our community a hand up through our recovery efforts.”
Items approved as decision units in deliberations include:
- Enhanced services in downtowns and parks such as increased waste collection, portable washrooms and directional signage. These items were recommended by the Economic Recovery Task Force and Council approved a combined increase of $200,000 to various operating budgets for these initiatives.
- Lake Dalrymple Lake Management Plan – the fifth largest lake in Kawartha Lakes will be studied by Kawartha Conservation. The four-year program will be initiated in 2021 at a cost of $90,000, total project cost is $300,000.
- The Coboconk Wellness Centre will be funded by the City ($1.5 million), contingent on other levels of government funding and fundraising. Council committed to advancing $126,000 of the municipal contribution in 2021 to ensure that the project progresses to a ‘shovel ready’ state that will allow grant funding applications to be better considered.
- Renovation of the Kawartha Lakes Police Services Building Evidence Room and Forensic Lab ($231,000).
The Water and Wastewater Budget was adopted with a user rate increase of 3% to ensure adequate funding to support capital and operating requirements across all 21 water systems and 6 wastewater systems.
Consultation has concluded