Council whittles down 2018 tax increase to 3.25%

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KAWARTHA LAKES-The City of Kawartha Lakes council has managed to shave some money off of the 2018 budget and reduce a proposed tax increase by more than 1%. After final budget deliberations on Wednesday, he total amount required from taxation to support City operations in 2018 is $107,766,256 million. That’s an increase of 3.25% over 2017 and is under the forecasted increase of 4.5% as outlined in the financial plan.

Council adopted the 2018 Operating Budget which also sets the base for the next 10 years according to city officials. Next year’s budget is the first one adopted under the new 10 Year Financial Plan. “The priority was to preserve the long term financial health of the municipality while providing predictability and affordability for residents.” stated a release from the City.

Over the next 10 years, the City will attempt to eliminate the $30 million infrastructure deficit, stabilize taxes to a cost of living level and replenish capital reserves. In 2018, $2 million dollars is going into reserves to take care of capital needs, emergencies and to leverage any opportunities that arise over the year such as new government grants.

“There were many pressures on the budget this year including additional winter control costs, investment in enhanced road maintenance and rising WSIB premiums. I’m pleased to report a reduction of $440,000 in funding requested from the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corporation assisted in lessening the pressures,” stated Ron Taylor, Chief Administrative Officer.

The Water and Wastewater Operating Budget was approved within the City’s Operating Budget and included a 3% increase for those taxpayers who use municipal water and wastewater. The task of supporting all 21 water systems and 6 wastewater systems across the municipality is becoming more affordable due to increased staffing efficiencies and more government funding according to the city. The increase was originally forecasted at 4%.

“Council is following the course that we’ve charted under the 10 Year Financial Plan. This is very exciting because we’ve done exactly what we set out to do. We’ve researched, strategized and come up with a smart plan. And we’re sticking to the plan. This means residents can rest assured that the City will see tangible improvements to what they value most – good roads, community safety, arenas, parks, libraries, a healthy environment and access to over 200 different services – all while paying reasonable taxes. It’s a tall order, but we’re on track,” commented Mayor Andy Letham.