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2024 Budget readies for growth while maintaining affordability and sustainability

Budget 2024 fall image
Kawartha Lakes – On October 17 and 31, 2023, Kawartha Lakes held Special Council Meetings to provide preliminary information on the proposed 2024 Budget. During these meetings, senior staff provided departmental overviews with highlights of 2023 accomplishments and priorities for 2024. Both meetings can be viewed on the City’s YouTube channel and presentations are available for download on our Budget and Finance webpage.

The October 17 meeting provided an overview of the budget themes and highlights:

Long-Term Financial Planning key to riding the growth wave
Ron Taylor, CAO, presented a history of the municipality’s long-term financial planning, dating back to 2017 when the current Asset Management Plan was developed. The Asset Management Plan is designed to address the replacement and rehabilitation needs of the municipality’s capital assets. These assets include roads, bridges, water treatment plants, fleet, equipment, and facilities such as long-term care homes and public housing. The municipality’s capital asset portfolio is worth about $4 billion in replacement value.

The current Long-Term Financial Plan (LTFP) takes into account legislated requirements along with all master plans and Council direction. It forecasts expenditures and financing and provides context for decision making. The LTFP sets out targets for taxpayer affordability while minimizing the long-run cost of the asset portfolio and planning for new investments required by growth. A goal within this plan is to build reserves to support all assets.

“Our long range goals include catching up on deferred capital projects, minimizing reliance on debt, increasing contributions to reserves and preparing for growth,” noted Taylor.

Looking ahead to the community’s needs a decade into the future
Taylor described how the Capital and Special Project Budget is built into the LTFP to ensure that as the condition of assets change, the municipality can make strategic investments. All departments are informing the LTFP, with expertise in respective areas being applied to best use reserves to stabilize factors outside of the municipality’s control, such as winter control or fuel costs.

Long-term Operating Budget forecasts are also being modelled to understand how the municipality’s growth will impact staffing requirements. As the population expands to reach a population of approximately 98,000 by 2031, varying departmental services will be needed at various stages of growth. Operating plans will continually be refined in a rolling three year forecast, ensuring the right staff complement to deliver service levels as set by Council.

Capital Budget investments have increased due to growth and inflation
The municipality plans to carry out all deferred capital projects, totaling $87 million, over the next four years. Alongside this expenditure, there will be growth-related needs as identified in master servicing plans and supported by the reserve strategy and the debenture (debt) strategy. This translates into a $697 million investment between 2024 and 2031.

Taylor noted that the impact of Bill 23 will be clarified later this year with the finalization of the province’s Building Faster Fund. This will quantify the funding available to Kawartha Lakes when it reaches the Housing Pledge of 6,500 homes built by 2031.

Capital Budget keeps facilities in state of good repair and plans for expansions to meet community’s needs
The proposed Capital Budget of $72.3 million aims to catch up on deferred projects and invest into community needs. Highlights include investments into every corner of Kawartha Lakes:

Roads and bridges: $33 million, including starting the new Colborne Street Bridge in Lindsay, resurfacing of CKL Road 49 (from CKL Road 36 to CKL Road 121), King Street reconstruction in Lindsay, Ellice Street reconstruction in Fenelon Falls, Francis Street East Resurfacing (Fenelon Falls - from Colborne Street to River Drive), Centennial Park Road Resurfacing (Bolsover-Kirkfield - from CKL Road 48 to CKL Road 6), Cowan’s Bay Bridge replacement in Emily.

Facilities and Fleet: New Paramedic Services Headquarters, Public Works Fleet Depot expansion, Lindsay Recreation Complex HVAC replacement, Little Britain Community Centre Ice Pad replacement, and three Fire Rescue Trucks. See illustration for full list of significant project.
Tax Supported Capital Expenditure by category

Investing to support growth
The current Council is already investing in growth-related infrastructure, and using the tools available to ensure the municipality can pivot to respond to shovel-ready projects. Kawartha Lakes is reaping the rewards of downtown reconstruction projects carried out over the last four years. Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay and Omemee are now ready to support growth with improved underground infrastructure and esthetics above ground to attract and support businesses, residents and visitors. Investment in the development approvals process will ensure shovels are in the ground to meet the newly accelerated housing targets.

Operating pressures impacting tax levy
Budget pressures include significant inflation, rising borrowing costs, investment in staff recruitment and retention.

“In addition to rising costs, we are in an uncertain global economy, ever present with recent world events. We are still experiencing the effects of the pandemic with no new funding in that regard. Our commitment to residents remains, and we’ve turned over every stone to bring forward an affordable budget,” commented Sara Beukeboom, Director of Corporate Services.

Since 2018, taxes have cumulatively increased 17 percent, or an average of 2 percent per year. The 2024 tax increase is initially presented to Council at a 4.6 percent tax levy increase. This will help finances to recover from the 2021 pause on tax levy increases at the height of the pandemic. In addition to the tax levy increase, a 1.5 percent capital levy that came into effect last year ensures the municipality keeps up with road and other infrastructure needs.

Debt at a conservative and manageable level
The municipality has $111 million in debt to support $4 billion of assets. In the context and scale of a household, if a house (assets) is worth $700,000, the mortgage (debt) would be $19,500. The municipality’s debt is at a conservative and manageable level which is well within the province’s prescribed Annual Repayment Limit.

Special Projects Budget contributes to long term planning
This budget of $2 million includes multi-year, non-capital projects such as master plans and strategies for the Downtown Revitalization, Public Library, Healthy Environment Plan Update and developing a Source Separated Organics Reserve for the new rollout in 2025.

Water-Wastewater Budget remains consistent for ratepayers
The municipality is responsible for 21 water systems and six wastewater systems. The user rate increases for these systems has been consistent at 3 percent a year. The 2024 Water-Wastewater Budget is $37 million across operating and capital sides.

Capital projects in 2024 include clean out of the Lindsay Wastewater Treatment Lagoon, preparation for a new and expanded Ridout Street Sewage Pumping Station, watermains and SCADA systems. As growth occurs, development charges will support the expansion required for these systems.

Follow along with the 2024 Budget Schedule

November 8, 7pm – Public Meeting, public deputations will be heard at the meeting.
November 28, 9am – Capital and Special Project Budgets deliberation, continued on November 30 if necessary
December 5, 9am – Operating, Water and Wastewater budgets deliberation
December 19 – Final 2024 Budget and Business Plan published on website

All meetings take place in Council Chambers at City Hall, and are livestreamed on the City's YouTube channel. Please refer to our website for all related agendas and documents for the 2024 budget. Subscribe to custom email alerts at to receive the municipal news you want, right to your inbox.

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