Up to my rear end in financial reports and budget details, I’m concerned about the 2,338 low-income children, 205 senior citizens and 1,899 adults who can’t afford Kitchener’s recreation-leisure activities.
These are kids, seniors and adults given financial assistance by the city last year so they could afford to participate in recreational activities likely to cost 2.3 per cent more in 2015.
The budget to support the Leisure Access Card (LAC) program and help those living below the poverty line has increased dramatically since 2010 and looks as will continue to increase in 2015.
For that reason, staff are recommending councillors budget an additional $16,000 this year for LAC. And, because that amount is unlikely to meet demand, I have given notice I will again ask for that increase to be hiked $10,000 to a total $26,000.
Staff say that, even when the program runs out of cash, extra funds are found and no one is turned away but, considering the following, I don’t want to take that chance:
· In 2010, we helped 940 children, a number that soared to 2,338 last year.
· In 2010 we helped 140 seniors and, by 2014, the number jumped to 205.
· Five years ago we helped 850 adults and, last year, the number was 1,899.
Overall, we helped 1,930 low-income people in 2010 and 4,442 in 2014 by providing discounts of $250 per child and $215 per adult.
Alarming statistics that merit realistic budgeting.
If you want a chance to speak on this or other budget topics, the public is invited to council on Monday Feb. 2 before councillors make final budget decisions Feb. 23.