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Mayor suggests Kawartha Lakes create tax rebate for ratepayers with 2019 surplus

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham has proposed a way the city could potentially help residents financially in 2021. At a ‘Committee of the Whole’ meeting, on Tuesday, October 6th, the mayor made a motion to have staff “review the option of utilizing the 2019 budget surplus, in its entirety, for a one time rebate on the 2021 tax bills for all ratepayers” and to have a report done for council to show “the result that the proposed tax rebate will have.” The 2019 surplus is estimated to be about $3 million. Mayor Letham explained why he put forward the motion. “It seems like we have a one time opportunity, not utilizing anything to do with the pandemic, and not utilizing any of the provincial funding or cutting capital projects, or pulling it out of [the operating budget], or using a reserve, but using a surplus from 2019. We can look at [it] as taxpayer’s money, and we’re in a position on a one time [opportunity], without affecting our financial plan in the long run, of taking that surplus and rebating it back to our taxpayers on their tax bill in 2021, and sort of saying to them ‘we know we’ve all had a tough year, we’ve done the best we can, we have had a reduction in some services, this is a one time rebate we are in a position to offer you because of some good decisions we made in 2019,’” Mayor Letham told councillors, adding he feels this is “the responsible thing to do.” The report is expected to come to council in early 2021. A number of councillors expressed their support for the motion. Ward 5 Councillor Pat Dunn said the proposal “allows us to continue the growth in our tax base.” Ward 4 Councillor Andrew Veale agreed. “Based on the year everyone has had, it’s a nice thing and a good thing to do.”

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