KAWARTHA LAKES – The City of Kawartha Lakes spent $5 million of their pandemic relief funding received from the provincial government.
At a recent special council meeting, city staff provided a 2022 budget overview and also reviewed the pandemic funding that was received in 2020.
According to Carolyn Daynes, Treasurer, the city was unsure if any funding would be provided but over seven million dollars was received from the province for operating pandemic expenses only. In 2020 and 2021, five million dollars was utilized and $1.5 million is remaining in the pandemic relief fund.
“I don’t think more money will be coming in, but you never know with the government, we can use any money that they want to give is, frankly,” said Daynes.
Before council and staff delved into a full day of numbers, questions and concerns, Mayor Andy Letham encouraged councillors to speak up.
“This is councils’ opportunity to ask questions and provide direction, this is a high-level overview,” he said. “This is an opportunity to have input. Dive in, ask questions, let’s have a good conversation today.”
Daynes noted that the city experienced $2.2 million in revenue loss in community services due to the pandemic, but that loss was offset as the city did not hire students or open various buildings, including saving money on hydro and water.
In 2020 over $600,000 was spent on emergency expenses such as barriers and cleaning. And while 1.5 million dollars is remaining from the pandemic funding, approximately $500,000 has already been allocated for the 2022 budget.
Out of the $7 million of funding, paramedic services saw a staff wage increase of four dollars an hour, with additional funds given to purchase personal protective equipment, PPE, and extra cleaning in ambulances and offices.
According to Daynes, fire services also received a small grant for training technology and PPE funding. Transit received money for loss of revenue, cleaning and space retrofits while Human services, Victoria Manor, received support for wage subsidy and cleaning expenses.
Housing recently received the fourth phase of social services relief funding in the amount of $2.4 million to support community housing, $1.5 million of that went to A Place Called Home for their reconstruction.
Ontario Works and childcare was also included in the pandemic relief fund, Daynes noted that a lot of the finances were diverted from funds they already had and were spent on emergency childcare.