Kawartha Lakes and Brock Township navigating new COVID-19 financial situation
DAN CEARNS Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
KAWARTHA LAKES/BROCK: Municipalities in Ontario are continuing to do what they can to offer services while dealing with decreasing revenues due to COVID-19. The City of Kawartha Lakes has had to take measures to stay in good financial shape. “We are reviewing the City’s balance sheet weekly. As expected, revenues are down significantly, due to the deferred property tax due dates and reduced revenues in other areas, such as facility rental and user fees. Having said that, we are in good shape for the next couple of months. To complement the loss in revenues, we’re continually looking at spending containment. Due to mandated reduction of services, we had to suspend hiring certain seasonal staff, such as summer students. A total of approximately 200 part-time, seasonal and contract staff are impacted by layoffs. We are also implementing deployment strategies to support front-line and essential services involving approximately 600 staff,” CAO Ron Taylor explained, during a recent press conference. The City is also working with the province of Ontario to find funding opportunities. “Similarly to the municipality, I would characterize the province in being also in emergency response mode, and managing the pandemic and getting ahead of it. With that strategy, the province has been working proactively with municipalities, us included, to provide emergency relief in the very immediate term,” Mr. Taylor said, at a recent telephone press conference. “Inclusive of that would be, some immediate emergency funding to help support our long term care homes. We also are the social services service manager for Kawartha Lakes and the Haliburton area, and there has been some emergency relief funds that have been given through to service managers that are flowing to our front-line parties. We are actively doing that work right now.” On Thursday, April 16th, the City announced they will receive $1.8 million from the province’s Social Services Relief Fund. According to a press release, the funding will be to “support the provision of emergency housing and shelter services and food security in Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.” Some of the services the funding will support, includes ”A Place Called Home’ in Lindsay, the United Way of City of Kawartha Lakes, Kawartha Lakes Food Source, Lindsay’s Salvation Army, the Bobcaygeon Food Bank, and SIRCH Community Services in Haliburton. “The Social Services Relief Fund also provides provincial funding through the Ontario Works program, to deliver direct financial assistance to individuals or families in immediate financial crisis, including those currently on social assistance who require additional resources. Requests for Emergency Assistance or Discretionary Benefits can be made by contacting the Human Services office directly, at 705-324-9870,” the press release stated. Meanwhile, Brock Township is unsure, as of yet, what the total financial impact of COVID-19 will be to the municipality. “At this time, it is too early to calculate what the impact will be, as we do not know how long this situation will be for. We are currently reviewing our 2020 budget, and most projects will be proceeding, especially those funded through reserves and not through the general tax levy,” Township Clerk Becky Jamieson told The Standard, in an email.