2019 Budgeting Process Begins
By Kirk Winter
At a Special Council meeting on Thursday, December 13, senior staff, led by recent hire Jennifer Stouver, presented a budget outline to the CKL Council. This was her first budget presentation.
The 2019 budget was constructed within the framework of the Long-Term Financial Plan that was started in 2017, and with the Ten-Year Plan for long-term sustainability in mind.
Staff has proposed a budget to Council that features a $5,889,534 increase over 2018. That would be an overall 5.5 percent increase in spending, but 1.5 percent was removed because of a growth in assessment. So the total not currently covered by taxation is approximately $4.2 million, or about 4 percent.
Stouver explained that this does not mean a universal levy increase for every household in CKL of 4 percent. Depending on your area, tax rates and improvements made to the property that would impact your MPAC rating, some people could see increases at little more than 2.5% while others could see an increase of close to 8% in their taxes if examples given from last year’s budget play out again.
Stouver shared that between 2010 and 2017, the average tax levy increases in the City were 3.75 percent. Between 2018 and 2028 increases in the tax levy are expected to drop, on average, to 2.84 percent per year.
The presentation continued specifically listing where the bulk of the City budget will be spent.
Community Services like parks, recreation and culture consumed 10 percent of the total budget.
Emergency Services, which consist of fire protection, the police department and paramedics consume 29 percent of the budget.
Public works, which includes road maintenance, snow removal and garbage pick-up eats up another 29 percent of the budget.
Mayor and Council will surprisingly only spend 1 percent of the total operating budget for 2019.
The budget is split into two enormous chunks, the operating budget and the capital budget. The operating budget simply covers the daily expenses of running the $3.2 billion enterprise called the City of Kawartha Lakes. For 2019, that budget has been set at $200.8 million.
The second part of the budget is the capital budget, and this budget includes one-time only spending to improve quality of life and infrastructure all over the City. This budget is set for 2019 at $48.5 million.
Major expenditures anticipated in 2019 include the reconstruction of Peel and Russell Streets in Lindsay, as well as the replacement of culverts, roads, and bridges in many different locales right across the City. Roads in general make up 49 percent of the capital budget.
An additional 17 percent of the capital budget will be eaten up by the Bobcaygeon Beach project and the Logie Street Park project.
The Fire Department will get a 9 percent share of the capital budget to cover the cost of the new Mariposa Fire hall and a new aerial truck.
In addition to the operating and capital budgets, the city's total budget includes the $22.5 million the City raises in user fees from things like development fees, as well as rentals for halls, arenas and sports fields.
When taken as a total, the proposed City budget for 2019 is a touch under $272 million.
Deputy Mayor Elmslie inquired of City staff if major capital projects from 2017 and 2018 will be completed, before the City takes on more building. Senior staff told the Deputy Mayor that almost all of the earlier projects would be finished to allow the City to focus on a new menu of valuable infrastructure priorities.
Elmslie also wanted to know if the City was going to finish in the red or the black for budget year 2018. The Deputy Mayor was told that a modest surplus of about $500,000 remains as of mid-December to cover snow removal, and based on long-term weather forecasts, it appears that money may not be necessary, leaving the City on the profit side of the ledger for this fiscal year 2018.
The Mayor and Council remarked that considering the entire budget was over $220 million, that a small surplus was welcome and the skills shown by City staff in managing the overall budget were much appreciated.
Councillor Dunn wanted to know what was going to be done about the backlog of sidewalk repairs that Lindsay faces. Dunn complained that the orange paint, put on broken or deficient sidewalks by City staff during their walkabouts every spring, is everywhere. Mayor Letham wanted to know from City staff if money could be moved from the new sidewalk budget for 2019 to be instead spent on the repairs raised by Councillor Dunn. Staff responded that that was possible, and that repairs could be made a priority for 2019.
Councillor Ashmore asked what their plan was for repairs to McGregor Drive. Ashmore suggested that if the road wasn’t soon repaired, it would disintegrate down to the gravel road bed, and not be repairable at all. Ashmore said the condition of McGregor Road has been a considerable source of ratepayer frustration in his riding, and even suggested that money should be borrowed from capital reserves to get the job done this spring. Council asked that staff look into it and provide information at the next meeting.
There will be two Special Council meetings to allow public input of the budgeting process. On January 23 and February 13, Council sessions will begin at 9am to allow time for maximum public participation.
Stouver hopes the budget will receive final approval on February 20, 2019.