The City of Kawartha Lakes had a budget deficit of more than one million dollars in 2016 and today council decided how to raise the funds to cover it.
After a long debate and a few failed motions councillors decided to raise the tax levy by $600,000 this year and more than $740,000 next year to make up the remaining deficit from 2016. The City says this means property owners will pay approximately $5 more per assessed value of $100,000.
The deficit is a result of three major, unexpected expenses. WSIB claims were $318,467 higher than anticipated, a Land Sales Revenue shortage of $562,006 and winter road control exceeded budget by approximately $1,300,000. There was a total deficit of $2,180,473, but surpluses in other areas reduced this amount.
Director of Corporate Services, Mary-Anne Dempster said staff had budgeted for 40 winter events in 2016 but there ended up being 52 winter events. A release from the city on Wednesday says “Staff will continue to actively investigate alternatives to provide the services in a more cost effective manner and will budget for 50 winter events in the future”
The WSIB overage was partially due to the new regulations around PTSD and emergency services.
Some councillors wanted to push the full deficit to 2018 rather than surprising residents with another increase this year. Councillor Breadner said “If we send it to 2018 it will give us an opportunity to find savings” But Mayor Letham disagreed. “We’re not making good decisions here folks” He said about the plan to push the deficit forward. Councillor Dunn thought council could do more to fill the gap. ” We had arena’s in front of us and we folded like a deck of cards” he said. “As a council we haven’t come up with any options”
The city’s contingency fund is dangerously low. Dempster said it is now approximately $850,000 and should be around 4 million dollars to fund obligations. “These funds are needed to begin to right size our base.” she said.
Council also had to come up with more than $700,000 this year to fund a pay equity agreement with CUPE.
This city says it would like to obtain an Employer of Choice designation as outlined in the Corporate Strategy and to be a desired place to work within the community and among other municipal competitors. Pay equity along with the wage adjustments made during the bargaining process are bringing this municipality closer to these objectives according to a staff report.
The City’s total cost to implement the agreed Pay Equity Plans for the period January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017 is $1 ,296,455. This figure includes payment to all employees who may have held positions within affected job classes at any time during that period as is required by the Acf.
Union Group lnside Outsíde Workers Pay hike breakdown:
$4,362 $595,1 09
The City and Union agreed that the 2017 impact would be compensated in 2017 and the impact from the 2015 and 2016 fiscal periods would be paid out to those affected in 2018.This money had been accounted for by staff and is not included in the deficit.
The tax hike will come on your June bill.