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Kawartha Lakes council prepares to make decisions on the 2024 budgets

DAN CEARNS The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Kawartha Lakes councillors had their first opportunity to hear information about the 2024 municipal budgets at a meeting on Tuesday, October 17th.

This budget meeting was merely to give councillors information on where each budget stands and allow them to ask questions. Budget deliberations are expected to be held in November.

So far, the capital budget totals $72 million, while the operating budget is at $255 million. There is also $2 million in the special projects budget.

The capital budget includes $33 million in roads projects, a $14 million investment in the City’s fleet and equipment, and $24.7 million in facilities projects.

“The funds are dispersed across various areas within the municipality,” Sara Beukeboom, the City's Director of Corporate Services stated.

Director Beukeboom noted the City and the global economy is facing “significant inflation.” She also pointed out the City is dealing with “limited increases in revenues and grants.”

Ward 8 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Tracy Richardson said it’s great the City is “putting some significant money into our assets.”

In terms of long-term planning, CAO Ron Taylor discussed how the city’s long-term financial plan affects the upcoming budgets.

“We need to accelerate our investment in our assets, making sure it’s sustainable and not just necessarily keeping the lights on,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City deferred a number of capital projects to future years. CAO Taylor said the City plans to tackle that backlog of projects “quite methodically and deliberately, and catching up in short order.”

“We’re trying to manage about $4 billion worth of value in assets. It’s a staggering number, especially for a municipality of this size, scale [and] population,” Mr. Taylor added.

The 2024 budget includes about $26 million in deferred projects from previous years, while it is projected the 2025 budget will see nearly $37 million in deferred projects.

With the provincial government expecting the City to have 6,500 new housing units created by 2031, Mr. Taylor stated the City is in “a state of growth and development readiness.”

While the City has a goal of a 3 percent tax levy increase, the 2024 budget currently sits at 4.56 percent.

“We are still early in this draft. We are looking to continue finding efficiencies, uncover revenue sources, and we’ll continue to identify areas where we can alleviate some of that 4.56 between now and December 5,” Director Beukeboom said.

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