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Tuesday, 04 October 2016 20:04

KL council seeks to cut $2.5 mill from ops

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By Pat Warren

            After Kawartha Lakes staff presented background reports for the capital and operating budgets to the special council meeting Sept. 27, council has asked staff to find savings—including $2.5 million from the operating budget.

            Council looks set to increase the capital budget as reserves are quite low and the debt limit needs to be raised to help fund a housing initiative and other capital projects. The housing-project costs should be recouped by rents in the long run.

            Within the reports from staff were decision units for council to consider for lowering the overall budget

            If the budget were to pass in its present state—which is really only a starting point—the tax-rate increase for 2017 would be about

4.5 percent.

            Staff had put together packages with options to help council make decisions to lower the budget. These include further depleting monies in a reserve for the Bobcaygeon Library expansion.

            Last year, council took about $1 million from the Bobcaygeon Library expansion project to lower the 2016 tax-rate increase. This left about $200,000 in a reserve so plans could be made to have this project shovel ready if grant money becomes available.

            Depleting this reserve further would virtually stop any plans for expansion for the second busiest library in the system.

            Also on the list for consideration regarding possible cuts are:

• Omemee Library relocation and expansion plans ($465,000),

• airport site works (about $1 million),

• deferring wall removal at the Old Gaol beside city hall, ($605,000),

• reducing gravel resurfacing, playground equipment, and boat launches,

• shutting down some community halls,

• "gapping wages" (leaving vacated staff positions unfilled for a period),

• deferring the purchase of plow trucks,

• reducing ditching and roadside protection by 25 percent,

• reducing road reflectors by 50 percent

• bridge maintenance,

• “trip-and-fall” sidewalk improvements, and

• doctor recruitment.

            All these cuts could reduce the operating budget by almost $2 million or 1.83 percent—with possibly more to come.

            Council will have some challenging decisions in the weeks to come.

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