Oy, yoy, yoy! Its not going to be an easy year!
Thats how Councillor Frances Smith summed up the bind Central Frontenac Councillors expect to find themselves in when they begin considering their 2005 budget in early March.
Smith was responding to a preliminary budgetary request from Mississippi Valley Conservation, which calls for an increase that is quite small in dollars at $777, but constitutes an increase of over 20% from what Central Frontenac paid to MVC last year.
The pre-budgetary hand wringing increased in intensity when a report from Township Treasurer Judy Gray was presented to Council, informing them property assessment in the township has decreased this year.
Last years tax rate with the new assessment would result in an overall reduction of $25,688. To raise the same amount by levy for municipal purposes as last year would result in a .7% increase in the Township rate.
This assessment decrease came about in spite of an excellent building year, with permits being issued for over $6 million in construction. The main cause noted for the overall decrease was the number of property owners who have successfully challenged their assessments through the property assessment appeals process.
A proposal was made to receive Judy Grays report, and to direct township staff to prepare budgetary requests that were less than or the same as what they received in 2004.
The message has to get out to staff to try and bring in the same budget as last year, said Councillor Smith.
Other councillors disagreed. We need to know what the options are. We need to at least hear what staff thinks should be done next year, and we can decide at Council what the priorities are, said Councillor Logan Murray. Mayor MacDonald agreed, saying, I dont want staff hiding any safety issues from me.
Clerk Administrator Heather Fox told Council she had taken down everything the councillors had said so staff will understand Councils concerns.
It was decided Council would simply receive the report from the treasurer and not directly tell staff to prepare 0% increase budgetary requests.
Mayor MacDonald then said he hoped many councillors would come to a meeting in Sydenham on Thursday night, where County staff will be outlining the County budget, which, he said, at this point stands at about a 10% increase.
Other items from Council
New rules for selection of Deputy Mayor: Councillor Bob Harvey requested at the previous council meeting that the procedural by-law for the selection of the Deputy Mayor be amended so that it is no longer stipulated that Deputy Mayor can not come from the same district as the Mayor.
Harvey said that the bylaw had been put in place at the time of amalgamation because of fears about the domination of council by the interests of one district, but that it is a restrictive policy that is outdated.
I dont like anything that is restrictive or divisive. I also dont like anything to be in place that ties future councils. I think the bylaw should be changed.
Harvey has been sitting as a councillor from Oso district for the seven years since amalgamation, and Frances Smith for five. Neither of them has been eligible for the job of Deputy Mayor because Mayor MacDonald comes from Oso district.
I dont want to be Deputy Mayor but I want to be able to be Deputy Mayor, said Frances Smith, pointing out that the mistrust that was behind the bylaw has dissipated over the years.
Just before voting on the motion to prepare a new bylaw, it was pointed out that three councillors were not in attendance, including Deputy Mayor Putnam, and they should have a chance to vote on the matter. The issue was tabled until the next meeting.
(Although the Deputy Mayors position is officially up for a vote on an annual basis, it has been the practice of the township to maintain the same Deputy Mayor for the three-year term of Council. From 1998-2000 the position was held by Lloyd Lee from Hinchinbrooke; from 2001-2003 by Jack Nicolson from Kennebec; and since 2004 by Faye Putnam from Olden. Putnam was confirmed in the position for 2005 on January 10.
Permits for Pools The cost of permits for backyard pools will be increased from $50 to $70, so that the township can include two videos Backyard Safety Pool Guidelines and Within Arms Reach with every permit. this has been done in response to a request from the Lifesaving Society, a charitable institution that distributes the videos.
Trapping permit George Teal has been granted permission to trap the pond located on the south side of the Hinchinbrooke Waste Disposal Site.
Wolf Kill Oliver Clow of Godfrey will receive compensation for the loss of two Charolais calves to wolves on January 16.