By Kirk Winter

On February 13, City of Kawartha Lakes Council met for almost seven hours and sat through a series of presentations from the various departments that service residents in the CKL.

The overall mission for City departments was stated early on in the day as “providing responsible, efficient, and effective services.”

It was clear early on that the City’s largest cost is staff. The City currently employs 695 full-time staff, 347 part-time staff and 135 additional staff, mostly in management positions.

Graphs were presented suggesting that the City has tried very hard to keep salaries and benefits at as low a percentage of total taxation revenues as possible. Municipalities of an equivalent size were reviewed for comparison where staff salaries and benefits accounted for as much as 45 percent of total tax revenues. CKL salaries and benefits currently account for only 33 percent of total tax revenues.

The graphs also showed how much wages have increased for City employees since 2015, based on what bargaining unit represents them. Non-union managers have seen a 4 percent increase since 2015, CUPE 855 at 5.5 percent,ONA at 5.6 percent, CUPE 1167 at 6.3 percent, OPSEU at 7 percent, Fire Protection Services at 8.75 percent, and Police at 8.75 percent.

The same presentation, co-hosted by CAO Ron Taylor and Director Jennifer Stover, also shared a significant City concern regarding staffing. By 2021, 44 percent of all municipal employees in the Province of Ontario will be eligible to retire.

Locally 51 percent of senior staff currently working for the City can retire in the next three years. Twenty percent of all local police and fire personnel can also retire by 2020/2021.

With that in mind, the City is planning a strategy to attract, train and retain good people to continue serving the people of CKL in a professional and caring manner.

A second major concern was also shared during these sessions. The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund currently provides CKL with 6.5 percent of its total budget. That subsidy plan is currently under review by the Province, and some fear it will be reduced or eliminated by 2020, as Ontario attempts to reduce its deficit by reducing transfers to municipalities.

The City’s Long-Term Financial Plan predicted a 4.5 percent tax increase for 2019, and most seemed pleased that the hard work had been done to reduce that projection a full percentage point to 3.5 percent. With inflation running at 2.2 percent, this increase is only slightly above what the City has already lost in ever-increasing yearly costs.

The following departments presented their proposed budgets for 2019:

  1. Corporate Services - 63.88 employees – requested a budget increase of $402,240.

  2. Development Services – 44.25 employees – requested a budget increase of $361,480

  3. Engineering Services - 28.47 employees – shared that their budget would actually decrease $40,493

  4. Public Works – 163.16 employees – requested a budget increase of $1,592,951

  5. Fire Services – 29 full-time and 350 volunteer employees – requested a budget increase of $474,298

  6. Human Services – 209.42 employees – requested a budget increase of $757,386

  7. Community Services – 114.73 people – requested a budget increase of $1,394,176

  8. Paramedic Services – 64.7 employees – requested a budget increase of $471,761

Council accepted all the reports. Budget deliberations will continue next week with hopes of the overall budget being passed on February 20, 2019.

City HallDeb Crossen