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Tuesday, 01 November 2016 20:59

CKL seeks sustainability in 2017 budget

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            Even though the proposed 2017 budget for Kawartha Lakes is still looking at a 4.6 percent jump, both Mayor Andy Letham and CAO Ron Taylor say the city is moving in the right direction.

            "We're heading away from the dangers of raiding reserves to fund operating costs,” says Letham, “and now we're finding

efficiencies in delivering core services and investing those savings in our capital programs."

            Using its own budgetary savings and new government grants, the city is proposing to invest $2.7 million more in capital projects for 2017 than in 2016. It’s the first time in years the city has invested heavily in capital.

            It is also earmarking $8 million in 2017 for a new city office space to house Human Services and 24 new social-housing units.

            The project should be cost neutral—by reducing reliance on third-party leasing for office space—and will increase the number of affordable-housing units while adding an energy efficient multi-purpose building to capital assets. Several departments worked together to find an innovative solution to meet several city needs at once.

            "We are doing exactly what we set out to do,” says CAO Ron Taylor. “We are closing the gap between revenue and financial pressures.”

            The long-term goal, he says, “remains to provide newer facilities and enhanced services through predictable cost-of-living tax increases and strategic investments."

            Here’s some other things the city has to say about how the budget is coming together:

• As council requested, staff have identified more than $2.5 million in cost-reduction options. Upcoming council decisions will address items like a $1 million reduction in personnel costs, and strategies to defer new public works vehicle purchases by extending the life of current vehicles.

• Administration continues working to streamline operational staffing.

• Most departments have kept budgets within a cost-of-living increase—with operational increases either part of union agreements already in place, or related to external inflation costs.

            Council will consider the Capital Budget and Water and Wastewater Budgets in November, and the Operating Budget in December. All documents are available online at city.kawarthalakes.on.ca under City Hall/Departments/Budget and Financial Planning.

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