KAWARTHA LAKES-City of Kawartha Lakes council wrapped up the capital budget portion of the 2024 budget sitting at a 3.5% tax increase and 1.5 % infrastructure levy. Those numbers could change as council is set to deliberate the operating budget next week.
Council started the day with a proposed tax increase of 3.99 % along with the 1.5% levy. That was down from the initial projections of a 6% increase when the draft budget was released in October. Mayor Elmslie said City staff worked hard to reduce those figures.
Read more here:https://www.kawartha411.ca/2023/10/17/tough-choices-ahead-for-council-as-2024-draft-budget-released/#:~:text=The%20City%20is%20currently%20working,budget%20for%202024%20is%20%2472%2C344%2C000.
The Capital budget is a plan focused on investing in constructing new or maintaining existing infrastructure assets in good repair. The tax-supported draft capital budget for 2024 is $72,344,000. That’s up from $58,113,000 in 2023 and 57.083,000 in 2022. By the end of Tuesday’s meeting council had knocked that down to 70,671,060 million by using Provincial Gas tax reserves to purchase a bus for $500,000 and deferring the Colborne Street and Angline Street intersection reconstruction.
Councillor Smeaton was surprised by that move to defer the project in his ward and says he was not notified in advance.
“This is something that obviously I am just finding out about now which is odd so I have a lot of questions. This is something that’s desperately needed and we were just talking about this and how excited we were that it’s in the budget. So if I could have an explanation as to why it is being deferred. A lot of people aks about it daily.” said Smeaton.
Juan Rojas, Director of Engineering and Corporate Assets explained that the environmental assessment on the project has been delayed and won’t be completed until mid-2024, meaning the project cannot start until 2025. When asked why it was delayed Rojas said it would have to be explained in a closed session with no reasoning available to the public.
Council also moved to take another $600,000 from the Federal Gas Tax reserve and $400,000 from the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) financing from the City’s multi-year Low-Volume Gravel Roads program to fund specific decision units proposed by each councillor.
Not all councillors agreed with this approach.
“I don’t think this is a good way to do the budget,” said Councillor Yeo. “This is quite upsetting actually knowing that we are going to go in at 3.5 we are going to roll the dice on an MPAC decision and we are going to start using reserves for decision units that came in basically unfunded unless someone had a crystal ball.”
Councillor Joyce also felt the move was unwise.
“I wanted to echo Councillor Yeo’s remarks. I’m surprised, I’m not in favour of the decision units. My fight was to get the tax down to 3.5% and we got lucky here.”
But others agreed and with that, the following roads will be getting some level of refurbishment.
Mary Street in Omemee, Horseshoe Crescent in the Coboconk area, Neals Drive in Janetville, Mill Street in Bobcaygeon, Anderson Road and Gold Links Road in the Fenelon Falls area, St George Street in Lindsay, Pleasantview Crescent in Little Britain as well as Shirley Anne Drive.
Council is back at it to deliberate the 2024 Operating Budget next Tuesday.