Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Is the referendum binding?
  2. But if it's not binding, what's the point?
  3. What if another party is in power after the Ontario provincial election (October 2nd)?
  4. What was the "previous municipal model of government"?

  5. What was the advantage of the previous structure?
  6. What will de-amalgamation cost?
  7. Who will pay the costs to de-amalgamate?
  8. Does a YES vote require a majority of all registered voters?
  9. Aren't we in this too far to go back?
  10. If everything could be done by the upper tier (County), what's the point of two-tier government?
  11. What's the process?

Is the referendum binding?

      If the vote is "Yes", de-amalgamation will require an amendment to provincial legislation. In a democracy, no government minister can guarantee how members of the legislature will vote on any issue - to do so would be contempt of the Legislature!

But if it's not binding, what's the point?

      Why would the Province initiate this referendum if they had no intention of abiding by the result? While the referendum can not be legally binding, there is a moral obligation to implement the decision of the people. Certainly we have Mr. Hodgson's word: "I can tell them that my commitment is we'll live with the will of the people".

     To quote from the Lindsay Post, April 23, 2003:

     In his conversation with The Daily Post, Hodgson reaffirmed his commitment that a "yes" vote for de-amalgamation would result in the restructuring of the City of Kawartha Lakes.
    "That would happen, for sure", he said, adding that such a restructuring could take place through a request from city council or through the provincial government.
    "I don't imagine any political party would go against the will of the people", Hodgson said.

What if another party is in power after the Ontario provincial election (October 2nd)?

     Both the Liberals and the NDP are on record that they would honour the result of the referendum.

What was the "previous municipal model of government"?
  • Victoria County was a two-tier structure. Each of the 16 municipalities had its own Council. Representatives from each municipality formed the upper-level County Council, which handled common matters (eg. social services, planning, waste management, etc.).
  • The mega City of Kawartha Lakes has one Council for a diverse rural/urban population spread over 3067 square km.

What is the advantage of the previous structure?

  • Services were managed by the tier that made sense.
  • Individual local municipalities worked together to share costs, while retaining local control.

Tax fairness:
  • In the previous two-tier system each municipality set local tax rates
  • In the megacity there is one general tax rate. Property re-assessments have caused unfair tax shifts between areas.
  • All taxpayers, no matter where they live, now pay for all streetlights, sidewalks, paved roads and the Lindsay airport.

Local control of service levels:
  • Local councils provided affordable service levels
  • In the megacity residents must pay for services whether they want them or not. "Levelling-up" of the cost of services and salaries has increased taxes for all.

Local representation:
  • In the previous two-tier structure, municipal Councils were familiar with local issues. Councillors were more accessable and more accountable to constituents who were their neighbours.
  • In the megacity each ward has only one Councillor. Residents are told to deal with City staff, not their Councillor. Decisions are made by unelected staff with little knowledge of local matters.

Local control of spending
  • In the two-tier structure, local councils reviewed financial matters on a regular basis and exercised financial discipline.
  • In the megacity there is no ongoing overview by Council. By May 2003, audited figures for 2002 were not available. The 2002 budgets were hugely overspent.

Lower cost of government:
  • Before amalgamation, municipal politicians were paid far less (in Sturgeon Point they were volunteers).
  • The megacity has spawned a huge expensive bureaucracy, as well as high-priced consultants hired for items formerly handled by staff.

Local Identity & Culture:
  • Victoria County (1861-2000) had a rich history of community involvement
  • Historic villages and townships are now numbered wards
  • In the megacity, former volunteer positions have been assigned to paid staff; volunteerism has declined.
  • Many community events (eg. Canada Day celebrations) are no longer held

Who will pay the costs to de-amalgamate?

      "It will be the same process you went through the first time.You would apply to the province for restructuring funds and you would receive 75% of your eligible costs."
     Chris McPherson, senior advisor to the current Minister of Municipal Affairs, has said the Municipal Restructuring Fund is used "whenever it is necessary"

Does a YES vote require a majority of all registered voters?

     No just 50% plus one of the votes cast. As Mr. Hodgson told Council: a simple majority was good enough to elect him, and all the Councillors, to their offices. It should be sufficient to determine this question too.

Aren't we in this too far to go back?

      If you are at the bottom of a hole, first you stop digging, then you climb out! Although it appears we have invested a lot in amalgamation, most of that money has bought assets which can be divided among the restructured municipalities. As for the money that can't be recovered: we can at least act now to stop the spending spree, rather than "send good money after bad".

If everything could be done by the upper tier (County), what's the point of two-tier government?

     Ask the folks in Haliburton or Peterborough: flexibility! Immediately prior to amalgamation, a "who does what" study reviewed more than 50 services; the majority were allocated to the lower tier. In fact, the 16 municipalities of Victoria County had control over 52% of the total municipal levy (excluding education).

      Because we are now just one municipality, there is only one general tax rate for the entire City of Kawartha Lakes. Services and taxes are "levelled up". With de-amalgamation, each municipality can again tailor services to its taxpayers' wishes, and set its own general tax rate accordingly.

What's the process?

      Both Chris Hodgson, when he was Minister of Municipal Affairs, and the present Minister, David Young, have outlined the process that would follow a "Yes" vote to de-amalgamate.

      At the Nov. 12, 2002 meeting of Council, when he requested the referendum, Mr. Hodgson explained that if the referendum vote is "Yes", the councillors you elect this November 10th will be an interim council for a one year term. During that period they would be responsible for planning the orderly division of City of Kawartha Lakes assets and liabilities among the former municipalities and Victoria County.

      Of course, at the same time they would also be responsible for the continuing delivery of municipal services.

      At the end of the transition period, by-elections would be held to elect Councils for the newly reconstructed municipalities.

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