Officials Say Economic Recovery A Priority In City’s Capital Budget For 2021

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Courtesy Pexels

KAWARTHA LAKES – Council has passed the 2021 Tax Supported Budget which will allocate 55.6 million dollars to capital projects.

According to city officials, due to the pandemic, approximately $25 million in capital projects were paused but will resume in 2021. Capital projects focus on maintaining the city’s vast roads network, enhancing downtowns and upgrading recreation and community facilities to stimulate the economy.

The total capital program investment will be approximately 55.6 million dollars, they said.

A report on the 2021 Operating Budget forecasted 4.8 million dollars in city requirements. City officials say staff will continue to review the budget with the goal of reducing the tax levy impact to a 3 to 3.5 percent range. According to the city, to date in 2020, 5 million dollars in pandemic related costs have already been offset by Council and staff decisions regarding service and staffing levels, cost reductions and other efficiencies.

“We have some amazing people all across Kawartha Lakes who put a lot of time and effort into fundraising, organizing events and supporting wherever is needed. We want to keep them engaged and keep the momentum going,” said Mayor Letham. “These capital projects will benefit the entire municipality, and were highly recommended by the Economic Recovery Task Force as the best ways to help stimulate the economy.”

Phase three of four for downtown Lindsay reconstruction will ring in at approximately 6.7 million dollars. According to the city, this price tag came in nearly 1.2 million dollars under budget and has allowed for other projects to be accelerated.

Downtown Fenelon Falls reconstruction, which will include Colborne Street from Water Street to Bond Street, will cost 2.7 million dollars and the replacement of watermains and sewers on Colborne Street will cost 1.2 million dollars.

City officials say boat launch upgrades and replacements at the Head Lake boat launch, Elliott Falls boat launch in Norland and Coulson Park boat launch on Washburn Island will claim 115,000 dollars of the budget.

According to the city, this investment supports the Economic Recovery Task Force recommendations to enable residents and visitors to safely enjoy the waterways and natural resources throughout Kawartha Lakes.

The 2021 budget will also allocate 160,000 dollars to the 50/50 Community Program. City officials say this program allows community groups to apply for parks and recreation related projects without the need for community matching funds, on a one-time basis.

Part of the budget will also be distributed in maintaining the priority of investing in the roads network with 8 million dollars going to road resurfacing across urban, rural and gravel roads and lifecycle management, the city said.

The Mill Pond Bridge in Omemee will be replaced for 1.4 million dollars while three other communities will be included in accelerated sidewalk replacements. According to city officials, William Street from King Street to Canal Street in Bobcaygeon, Monck Road from CKL Road 121 to Bobcaygeon Road, in Kinmount, and Green Street from Murray Street to 3 Green St., in Fenelon Falls, will see 149,000 dollars designated for sidewalk replacement.

Fleet and equipment city-wide including Fire and Paramedic Fleet will see 5.1 million dollars out of the budget, the city said.

Relocation and expansion of the Bobcaygeon Library branch will see 500,000 dollar in 2021, the total project carries a projected value of 1.5 million dollars.

As a result of the pandemic and residents changing and evolving needs, the city has also allocated 280,000 dollars to recreation facility and equipment updates including arena ice equipment and washrooms, fitness equipment and park furniture.

The City will spend 326,000 dollars on various facility improvements on a variety of properties which will include new health and safety features for Victoria Manor and the renovation of the Kirkfield Medical Centre.

Council also agreed to place the three million dollars of surplus money from the 2019 Operating Budget into a contingency reserve to be used for community, economic and corporate recovery from the pandemic.

Staff also noted that 4.8 million dollars in funding is available from the province that is intended to cover 2020 and 2021 pandemic related costs. Recently, the City was allocated 391,000 dollars through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Grant to support physical distancing, social infrastructure, active transportation and disaster mitigation projects.

The Proposed Operating Budget will be posted December 11 and will be deliberated in the New Year.