When replacing a culvert over the Henderson Road, Central Frontenac crews put in a larger, and longer pipe. It turned out that because of the extra length, the culvert now extends beyond the township right of way and onto Ken Arney’s property.
Exactly how far into Arney’s property the culvert extends, has not been determined yet. Given the situation, the township intends to purchase a small piece of Arney’s property. In order to determine how much of Arney’s land is involved, and make the purchase, a survey must be completed, and that can’t happen until the snow melts.
Arney came to Council this week (Tuesday, February 19) in order to express his frustration about how the process has been carried out thus far.
“I am not happy about the way I have been treated by township staff over this. I feel that I have not been well informed by staff. I wasn’t impressed with one of the councillor’s comments either. He said it was inconsiderate of me to ask him to spend two hours of his valuable time on this by visiting and having a look.”
Arney also said that he thought the township needed to survey his property in order to determine the limits of the piece they intend to purchase.
Mayor Frances Smith said that since Mr. Arney’s neighbour’s property has been surveyed, “the surveyor can work from those posts to survey the piece. We are not going to survey the entire property.”
When the possibility of expropriation was mentioned, Arney speculated that he might be better off going that route.
Mayor Smith said, “as far as I understand it, when we fixed the culvert we encroached on your property by mistake. We aren’t going to pull out the culvert so we need to buy the land. The best outcome is for us to do the survey and come to an agreement over the price. Expropriation is not something we want to do. We would rather agree on the boundaries and the price with you.”
Pic Hall repair – old walls hold secrets
Acting Development Services Manager Alan Revill spoke to the ongoing construction at the Piccadilly Hall. He reported that when the paneling was pulled off of one of the exterior walls in the hall to reveal some century old lathe and plaster, it also revealed a 5 inch gap between the wall and the floor and a similar gap below the ceiling. Given this, the contractor recommended stripping out the existing material and putting in a new wall on the existing wall supports. This will increase the cost of the project by over $7,000. The good news, Revill said, was that the project has been progressing smoothly, and will be “substantially complete by early March.”
Pic Hall repair (part 2) who owns the hall anyway – In 2016 the township became aware of the fact that the property the Piccadilly Hall is located, as well as about half of the adjacent cemetery, are not legally owned by the township. The piece of property, which was part of the old Clark farm, that was purchased by the Snider family, was donated to Hinchinbrooke Township but apparently the land transfer was never completed. The land is still registered to Clark, as it has been since 1857. Council did not act on the information in 2016, and Deputy Clerk Cindy Deachman prepared a new report this month in light of the construction that is now going on.
“Staff recommend Council approve commencing the required legal work to correct
title for both the hall property and the two cemetery properties. This will most
likely include survey work to obtain a legal description, and a court
application, at least for the two parcels owned by Mr. Clark,” she said in her report.
The estimated court costs will likely be over $5,000 and the survey will cost a similar amount. The township is planning to budget for the transfer this coming year.
Compliance with new Municipal Act – Council, along with all other municipalities in Ontario, are facing a March 1st deadline to enact policies to comply with provisions in the recently revised Municipal Act.
One of them is a Tree Canopy and Natural Vegetation Policy, which the Deputy Clerk recommended keeping at more of an educational level than imposing bylaw restrictions on property owners. An email from David Shostal of Randy Hillier’s office indicated that the government was backing down from the requirement.
In that context, Councillor Brent Cameron said Council should take no action. Councillor Victor Heese said it was still a good idea to have a tree policy in place. Councillor Bill MacDonald, a logger himself, said some restriction against clear-cutting might be a good way to go. The matter was referred back to staff. The council has another meeting before March first, and they may or may not pass a new tree policy.
Another policy that is required is a council pregnancy and parental leave policy, providing 20 weeks leave for council members.
Councillor Tom Dewey suggested that the proposed policy, including a provision to pay the deputy mayor the salary of the mayor if the mayor is off on a maternity or paternity leave.
Mayor Smith assured Council that she is not seeking such a leave at this or likely in the future, but that Dewey’s recommendation seemed sensible.
When asked, all of the council members indicated they are not planning on taking such a leave.
Finally, council considered a code of conduct and council staff relations policies, which will be coming back for a vote on February 26.
One more year of OMPF funding.
Provincial transfers to municipalities under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) will be unchanged in 2019. The Ford government intends to change the program in the coming months, with a view towards focussing on the more rural and cash strapped councils. In a letter to municipalities, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli said OMPF changes would be announced well in advance of 2020, before municipal councils start their budget process for next year
“Ministry staff are working to finalise data updates to ensure the OMPF continues to be
responsive to changing municipal circumstances as is the case under the current
program,” he wrote. He added that the province is facing a deficit and continues “to review government transfer payments.”
Budget meeting, March 22.
Because members of council will be away in early March, the next budget meeting will be Friday, March 22, at the fire hall on Wagner Road, 9am.
South Frontenac Council approved a 2019 budget of $19,741,688 at its regular meeting Tuesday night in Sydenham.
This represents a 3.199 per cent increase over 2018’s budget of $19,129,719, however, it falls in line with Council’s direction of a 2.0 per cent impact on the average phased-in property when increased property values are factored in.
The $19,741,688 is the same figure presented at the Jan. 26 meeting, however, at that time, Council wanted to add in a New Leaf Link grant of $2,000, a museum grant of $3,00, $20,000 in community grants and $20,000 for additional brushing.
In order to maintain the Jan. 26 figure, Treasurer Louise Fragnito reduced the ‘miscellaneous figure by $5,000 and firefighter recruitment financing by $40,000.
“Through the budget discussions, Council added $20,000 for additional community grants and $20,000 for additional contracted brushing and staff was asked for alternatives for funding these two initiatives,” Fragnito’s report said. “Typically, operating budget items are not funded from reserves, unless as a one-time adjustment, as they create a future year impact to the tax levy.
“(This adjustment) switches the Capital — Firefighter recruitment financing by increasing the funding from working funds by $40,000 and reducing the tax levy by $40,000, which provides the capacity to offset the $40,000 and reducing the tax levy by $40,000, which provides the capacity to offset the $40,000 increase in the operating budget and keeping the tax impact to 2.0 per cent.”
CAO Wayne Orr said staff will bring back a tax bylaw once the levies from Frontenac County and the Province (for education) are known, probably some time in April.
• • •
Before the regular meeting, Council held an in camera session to discuss the potential acquisition (or disposition) of land by the municipality (or local board): potential land purchase for seniors housing.
In a report prepared for the three new members of Council to bring them up to speed, CAO Wayne Orr summarized what’s happened up to this point, including the potential involvement of Kingston and Frontenac Housing Corporation, financing and mortgage models as well as potential sites. Orr’s reports were part of the regular meeting agenda package for Tuesday night’s meeting.
“Initially, discussion focused on establishing a project in Sydenham, Verona or Inverary as these communities had a number of services to offer within walking distance,” the report said. “In the early stages, a partnership with South Frontenac Community Services for a project at the Grace site was explored.
“Just recently, SFCS has indicated that they have been in discussion with a private developer who may have interest in reopening the discussions on a project at the Grace site as a Private Public Partnership (and) this has not been explored at this point.”
The report also included this statement: “The CAO work plan for the remaining six months of employment does not include significant time allocation for this initiative (Orr has announced his retirement plans).”
It should be noted that of the three settlement areas mentioned, Sydenham, Verona and Inverary, only Sydenham has a municipal water system.
Council wouldn’t disclose any more information but Mayor Ron Vandewal did say to Orr “you have direction.”
• • •
Council was shown a video provided by Meela Melnik-Proud and shot by Matt Rennie on a walking bridge constructed at the proposed Johnston Point condominium development on Loughborough Lake.
“At the April 2016 Ontario Municipal Board hearing, we brought forward specific concerns over this walking bridge that is directly in Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW),” Melnik-Proud said. “It was our understanding that this bridge technically would not constitute development in the PSW, since it would be free standing, and furthermore, that all vegetation within 30 metres of the shoreline would be maintained in a natural state.”
The video shows several support posts in the PSW and removal of vegetation, including stumps suggesting removal of trees greater than 4 inches in diameter.
Mayor Ron Vandewal promised “either our staff will find an answer for this or we’ll forward it to (Frontenac) County.”
CAO Wayne Orr said: “At this time, we do not have a signed condominium agreement. We expect one in June.”
He said that until the condo agreement is signed, they have no mandate to go in and enforce a site-plan agreement and any conditions that it might include.
“It’s private property at this point,” Orr said. “But he has to meet certain conditions before it becomes condominiums and without meeting those conditions, he (the developer) has no units to sell.
“Our ability to put restrictions on comes when there’s a request to change (a property).”
“People wouldn’t like it, but I could clear cut my farm and put 500 wells on it if I chose,” said Mayor Ron Vandewal. “But if I apply for something, everything changes.”
Director of Developmental Services, Claire Dodds, said the developer did have a permit from the conservation authority to build the walking bridge.
• • •
Council directed staff to look into declaring two firehall properties surplus and to report back.
The properties in question are the Burnt Hills station and the old Perth Road Station.
“If Council decides to sell, Burnt Hills would have to be as is,” said Mayor Ron Vandewal. “It’s like half an acre and I wouldn’t like to see a house go on it.
“There is a structure there but it could only be used as a storage shed for a neighbour or something.”
“I’m guessing it’s not zoned residential although Perth Road is,” said CAO Wayne Orr.
“We don’t necessarily have to rush ahead,” said Coun. Alan Revill. “We could declare them surplus for the fire department to make plans and decide what to do with them later.”
Council directed staff to come back with recommendations.
The hard-fought completion of the K&P Trail to the junction with the Trans Canada Trail in Sharbot Lake, is being funded by Frontenac County this year.
As part of the its 2019 budget deliberations, County Council agreed to spend up to $250,000 to complete the last section of trail, a stretch between Bradshaw Road, north of Tichborne, and St. Georges Lake. The trail is already complete between St. Georges Lake and the trailhead just south of Sharbot Lake, where it meets the Trans Canada Trail.
Frontenac County Manager for Economic Development, Richard Allen, told Council that the final section includes a swamp (see photo) a watercourse, and must be re-routed around 2 existing houses as well.
“$250,000 will cover the cost for sure, hopefully it will be less,” he said.
It was not that difficult to convince council that the trail must be completed.
“We’ve been working on this for years, and we’ve spent millions. We would look pretty foolish if we didn’t get it done,” said Mayor Ron Vandewal from South Frontenac.
“I sat on the first trail committee. That was over 10 years ago,” said Mayor Dennis Doyle from Frontenac Islands.
In terms of funding the final section, Richard Allen pointed to a slide that included bars, of various lengths, marking all of the granting programs that the county has tapped in order to build out the trail until now, over $3.75 million worth. A lot of that money came from various granting programs from the federal and provincial governments and foundations, including trail grants and others. There were x’s over all of the bars on the graph because the programs have all either been discontinued or the trail is no longer an eligible project for them.
The largest amount of money, over $1.7 million, came from the county share of federal gas tax rebate funds. A few years ago, however, Council decided to give its share of gas tax monies to the Frontenac townships for their own infrastructure needs.
Allen suggested that Council consider borrowing to finance the last section of trail construction.
“That way it will not have a huge impact on taxes in a single year,” he said.
This year the money will be taken from reserve funds to cover the construction, with a view towards securing a loan from Infrastructure Ontario once the final costs are known.
The completion of this section of the K&P Trail will result in a trail that runs from Lake Ontario in Kingston all the way up to Sharbot Lake. The completion of this part of the K&P Trail results in the inclusion of two major Frontenac sections in the national trail system, which would otherwise have bypassed most of Frontenac County by following Hwy 7 into Lanark County.
The K&P Trail section between Harrowsmith and Sharbot Lake will become part of The Great Trail (AKA the Trans Canada Trail). It will also bring the bulk of the Cataraqui Trail, the entire run between Harrowsmith and Smiths Falls, into the Great Trail family.
Further trail projects, including projects on Wolfe and Howe Islands, as well as the northern section of the K&P through Central and North Frontenac and into Lanark County and beyond, are next on the agenda for Frontenac County.
Central Frontenac Township owns the K&P trail between Sharbot Lake and the North Frontenac border, where the trail has gone into private hands until just north of Snow Road. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority owns the trail from Snow Road to the border with Lanark County.
Whether or not the Palmerston Lake Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) is included on the North Frontenac Township Land Use Schedule (of its Zoning Bylaw) is still up in the air somewhat, but the topic drew a crowd to last Friday’s regular Council meeting in Plevna.
And the gallery included one of the larger gatherings of the public at a North Frontenac Council meeting.
Megan Rueckwald, manager of community planning, County of Frontenac, told the meeting that planning staff have reached out to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) “for clarification of the Palmerston Lake ANSI (and) once this information is provided, should Council direct, planning staff will prepare an updated report with a recommendation.”
“We don’t have the answers today but we will have a public meeting when we get the information,” said Mayor Ron Higgins. “It’s a priority for us.
“We’ve been working on the Zoning Bylaw for five years.”
On Jan. 8, 2019, MNRF provided correspondence to the Township identifying the Palmerston Lake ANSI as “provincially significant” in response to Council’s motion at the Nov. 23, 2018 meeting. It is shown as provincially significant on the ministry’s Natural Heritage Mapping system.
However, it was not designated on the 2003 Official Plan. It is so designated on the Township Official Plan approved in 2017 and the Frontenac County Official Plan approved in 2016.
The Palmerston Lake ANSI, on the west and south end of the lake, was identified in January of 1989 (MNRF) as a provincially significant marble-based wetland, upland and rock barren complex.
Rare flora and fauna identified include the Calypso orchid (amerorchis rotundifloria) and moss (tomenthypnum falcifolium) as well as nesting ravens, a great blue heron colony and adult Cooper’s hawk, Rueckwald said in her report.
The landform itself is seated on marble, with calcareous-based hardwoods and mixed forest dominating uplands and a variety of calcareous wetlands occupying bedrock depressions, she said.
Assuming the land is designated as a natural heritage feature in the Zoning Bylaw, any development and/or site alteration would require an environmental impact assessment.
“That doesn’t mean no development but it does mean developing in a cautious manner because there is something worth preserving,” said Rueckwald.
Higgins said that during the public feedback part of the Zoning Bylaw process they received “about 50 emails” on the ANSI.
“We’re in this situation because in 1989 there was no public input,” said Higgins.
“I think as a township, we did really screw up in the ’80s,” said Coun. John Inglis.
• • •
Rural Frontenac Community Services represented by youth program coordinator Martha Johnston made a presentation to Council asking for $5,400 to provide services this year, the same amount that Council granted in last years budget.
• • •
North Frontenac Community Living, represented by executive director Dean Walsh, made a presentation to Council for information, not asking for a donation.
Walsh said the agency is a transfer payment agency, meaning it gets funding from clients through the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services for 40 adults, 10 children and three transitional aged youths in the amount of $1.5 million.
He said they have 35 employees, 15 of whom are full-time.
Anyone wanting to be notified of the public meeting should contact Clerk Tara Mieske in writing. Your correspondence should include your contact information and can be a letter, email or note dropped off to the Township office.
“The sooner, the better,” said CAO Cheryl Robeson. “Everyone who sends in their contact information will be notified of the public meeting.”
Frontenac County Council decided not to grant $48,000 each to Rural Frontenac Community Services (RFCS) and Southern Frontenac Community Services (SFCS), to provide transportation services for Frontenac County residents in 2019.
Instead, they put $96,000 aside and tasked warden Ron Higgins with trying to bring the two organisations together to come back to the county with a combined proposal. Higgins has a month to report back to Council on his progress.
Until this year, the two agencies had made a joint application for funding every year since 2011, when Frontenac Transportation Services (FTS) was established. RFCS oversees FTS, provided transportation to SFCS clients under a Memorandum of Understanding that was severed in October of last year.
RFCS had requested $96,000 from Frontenac County in 2019, and committed to transferring $25,600 of that money to SFCSC.
SFCSC made a counter proposal, asking for $62,400 in funding, leaving $33,600 for RFCS.
Noting that both of the agencies may see significant changes in the amount of money they receive for transportation from the Ontario Ministry of Health, due to pending healthcare reform, Frontenac County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Pender recommended that the county make a one time grant of $48,000 to each agency in 2019, and then consider what to do in the long term in the 2020 budget process. A motion was made to that effect.
Speaking to the motion, Warden Higgins said he did not support the 50/50 split of funds.
“Why should we give them $48,000 each when they have no plan, when we had been supporting an integrated program in the past. They should come to us together,” he said.
South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal agreed.
“We told them last year to come up with a business plan for transportation and instead they came with two competing proposals. Why should we encourage two transportation services in one county,” said Vandewal.
Higgins then proposed amendment to the motion. The amendment said that all of the $96,000 should be held in a reserve fund until the two agencies can agree on a single proposal for transportation.
“I’m concerned that any delay in delivering funding will result in people in need, not getting where they have to go. Besides we know the two organisations aren’t getting along over this. They’ve been trying to work this out and they can’t. What makes us think they will work it out now,” said Central Frontenac Mayor Frances Smith.
“I haven’t tried to make it work yet,” said Higgins.
Higgins said that if the amendment were passed, he would contact the two agencies and meet with them, then report back to Council in short order. Council meets in regular session on February 20 and again on March 20.
The amendment was approved, with Mayor Smith registering the only dissenting vote.
The county budget still reflects a $96,000 expense, just under 1% of the budget requisition.
Frontenac County will be requisitioning over $10.25 million from the four Frontenac Townships this year, up from $9.75 million in 2018.
The tax hikes come mainly as the result of salary increases, both among unionised employees at Fairmount Home and Frontenac Paramedics, and among non-unionised staff throughout the county departments. Thanks to a decision of the outgoing council last fall, County Council members will share in those salary increases as well.
The increases are spread throughout the major county operations. They include a $137,000 in the county share of the cost of running Fairmount Home, an 11% increase. The increase for Frontenac Paramedic Services is smaller, $74,000, a 3.8% increase. Among exclusively county funded operations, the Planning and Development Department budget is up by $67,000, a 10% increase, and corporate services is up by $72,000, an increase of 3.7%.
There were two requests for money from external agencies. One was quite large, $600,000 for a night-shift at the Robertsville ambulance base. With Frontenac Paramedic Services undertaking a service review this year, that request was pulled off the table by the North Frontenac Township representatives, until the review is completed. Another request, for $10,000 by Central Frontenac Not-for Profit Housing, for site improvements at the Clement Road housing complex, was rejected.
“I think we would be setting a precedent if we agreed to this,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Dennis Doyle.
The target that council set for the tax levy increase is the annualised Consumer Price Index as of October, 2018. That figure is 3.1%.
But when presenting the budget to Council, Treasurer Susan Brant included a figure of 2.1%, the increase in the total assessment of Frontenac County properties based upon information provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. That 2.1% was then subtracted from the 5.2% levy increase to bring a total of 3.1% under the heading of Total Levy Impact.
That 3.1% levy impact figure was reported by Global News as a 3.1% tax increase
When Frontenac County Council completed their budget meetings last week, the Councillors seemed to be happy about the result. They wanted to keep the tax increase to the cost of living index, which was 3.1%, and county staff presented them with that number.
The only problem is that 3.1% is not the tax increase for 2019, it is something else entirely.
It is the figure for what county staff call the “total levy impact” of a budget which will result in a 5.2% increase in the amount of money that, collectively, Frontenac County ratepayers will pay this year to finance Frontenac County.
Last year we paid $9.75 million, and this year we will pay $10.25 million (all rounded figures), a 5.2% increase. That’s a pretty simple calculation and that’s the way we have always reported tax increases in this newspaper and that’s the way we are reporting them this year.
So, what is this 3.1% all about?
It is about playing games with numbers to come with a result that sounds better than it really is.
To get to 3.1% you have to start thinking about the way municipal taxes are collected, and how that relates to property values. Every property in Ontario is assessed for value by MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, and we pay tax by multiplying the tax rate, which is set by our municipalities, by the assessed value of our properties. The total assessed value of Frontenac County properties is up by 2.1% this year over last year. Frontenac County staff deducted that increase from the 5.2% tax increase to come up with a 3.1% “total levy impact”.
The problem is that the “total levy impact” has nothing to do with budgeting, or the actual amount of money we are all going to end up paying.
Property assessments go up in two ways. One is through new construction, new homes, renovations to older homes, new garages and decks, etc. Permits for $45 to $50 million worth of new assessment are sold each year in Frontenac County, and two to three years later those building projects result in new property value, in some cases even brand-new taxpayers. This amount of real growth represents about a 1% increase in assessment.
This 1% increase reflects a real increase in property values in our county, more garbage, perhaps even more roads. Most of these increases have a minimal effect on the cost of running a municipality in the short run, but over time they will eventually have a measurable impact.
In their budgeting, the South Frontenac Treasury Department calculates this “assessment increase due to growth” and builds in some breathing space for their budget with that money. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but at least this kind of assessment has some relation to the cost of delivering services.
In 2018, Frontenac County used this 1% figure to mitigate against the overall tax increase, in much the same way South Frontenac does.
This rest of the growth in assessment comes from the MPAC four-year assessment cycle, which is essentially a virtual exercise. Once ever four years, MPAC analyses statistical sales data from across the province, and without necessarily visiting properties in person, assigns a new value to every property in the province. Since property values tend to go up, so do the MPAC assessments. These new values are phased in, so most properties in Ontario see their value increase every year by at least a few thousand dollars. These increases do not relate to any real new ‘value’ and they don’t result in any added municipal costs. They do not relate in any way to municipal operations, and they don’t put money in property owner’s pockets either. But they can result in higher taxes because a municipality receives a bump in tax revenue without raising the tax rate.
In their 2019 budget, for the first time, Frontenac County is deducting this increased revenue from their budget increase. They are claiming that these increases are not real, that they have no “total levy impact”. But they are real enough for ratepayers, because they result in more tax to pay.
Municipal councils need to make sure their managers control costs, and can justify any of the inevitable cost increases that they request for their department. They also should be honest, with themselves and with us, about tax increases.
In Frontenac County this year, 5.2% is the real increase. The County could claim that new taxes on real growth mitigates against that 5.2% increase by up to 1%, legitimately report an increase of 4.2%. I would still report it as a 5.2% increase, with a 1% mitigation due to growth, but that is a quibble.
But the 3.1% claim about “total levy impact” is misleading, at best.
When we get our tax bills, we will see the real dollar increases. There is no way to sugar coat that.
They are actually called ice resurfacers, and the Frontenac Community Arena Board has decided to replace their aging 2000 Olympia M propane powered model with a 2019 Engo Wolf Electric model.
As arena manager, Tim Laprade explained in his report to the board concerning the replacement that the initial cost of the Engo Wolf is much higher than a 2018 Olympia M - $165,000 as compared to $98,000. However, when the projected operational costs over the 16 year estimate lifespan of the two machines are factored in, the Engo Wolf at $211,000 is a cheaper option as compared to the Olympia M at $292,000.
The main saving is in the cost of electricity for the Engo Wolf: $6,000 per year, compared to the propane costs of the Olympia: $38,000 per year.
“We will actually use less electricity for ice-resurfacing with the Engo Wolf than we do now, because we need to run electrical fans at ice level to blow the fumes out of the building when the Olympia is running. We won’t need to power those fans anymore with the electric model.”
Laprade said that the air quality and overall environmental impact of the electric resurfacer are more important factors than the cost savings.
“The propane fumes are heavier than air, so they remain at ice level if we don’t ventilate, right where children are skating. Arena air quality is regulated, and we meet the standards, but with no fumes to clear out and no potential leaks from propane tanks to worry about, air quality is safeguarded with an electric machine,” he said.
The Engo Wolf also has a better blade system than the Olympia, and will save staff time changing blades on the machine- a weekly or even twice weekly one-hour job that will be all but eliminated, Laprade added. The new machine, which is scheduled for delivery in time for the September opening of the arena, will make the Frontenac Arena one of the few small rural arenas to make the leap to a modern, cleaner technology, according to Laprade.
The ice resurfacer purchase will be followed by larger arena upgrades in 2020 and 2021, when the floor and the refrigeration systems are due for replacement.
“Both of those are 45 years old and at the end of their useful lives. Replacing them will put the arena on a good footing,” he said.
The purchase was approved by the arena board last week, to be funded by the arena reserve fund. The arena is jointly owned by South and Central Frontenac, and is overseen by a board that is made up of appoints by the South and Central Frontenac township councils.
Laprade’s report to the arena board was included in the agenda for the South Frontenac Council meeting this week, as an information item.
Frontenac County Council is meeting over two days this week to discuss the draft 2019 Frontenac County budget.
Council will look at departmental business plans first before tackling the budget numbers and a proposed 3.6% increase in the dollars to be requisitioned from township councils,
They will also consider a set of project proposals, which, if adopted, would result in further increases.
Much of the 3.6% ($354,000) increase comes from increased wage costs across the various services that the county manages. There are relatively high increases in the budgets for the two largest county-run services: the county-owned Fairmount Home long-term care facility (7.83% - a $96,000 increase in money to be paid by Frontenac County residents) and Frontenac Paramedic Services (3.4% - a $65,000 increase).
There are a series of increases in other county operations in the draft budget.
Among these is governance (11% - a $26,000 increase in the levy), almost entirely due to an increase in council members pay, which was approved by the outgoing council last fall.
The corporate services budget is also up (3.65% - a $73,000 increase in the levy), also mainly due to pay increases.
The Planning and Development budget is also up (10.3% - a $67,000 increase in the levy), again, mainly due to pay increases.
The “total requisition” to county ratepayers is up to $10.1 million in the draft budget. The increase is larger than it appears at first glance, because it comes even after cutting a long-standing $96,000 grant to Frontenac Transportation Services out of the budget. The grant, which has been included in the county budget for that last 8 years, has been moved out of the draft document and is now included as a potential add-on, a “project proposal”.
Treasurer Susan Brant said that the $96,000 has been pulled because there are now competing requests for that money and Council will have a series of options to consider.(see page 2 – Pender recommends King Solomon solution for FTS)
The total county operation will cost over $43 million to run this coming year, but contributions from the Government of Ontario and the City of Kingston, for paramedic services and Fairmount Home, cover much of the overall cost.
County Treasurer Susan Brant has included a list of ‘project proposals’ that different department heads will be pitching to Council this week.
These include two positions at Fairmount Home: a new evening personal support worker and a part time recreationist. The cost to the county budget for this position is $24,500 for the personal support worker and $15,000 for the recreationist position. Fairmount is also asking for $1,500 from the county budget for parking lot repairs. The other major project proposal is coming from Frontenac Paramedic Services: $8,400 from the county budget for a paramedic wellness position. Together with some smaller projects from corporate services, the project proposals (if they are all adopted) would add an additional $59,000 (or 0.6%) to the increase.
Among the project proposals from external agencies is a $10,000 grant to Central Frontenac Housing Corporation, and a $600,000 estimated annual cost for a night shift at the Robertsville paramedic station in North Frontenac.
Finally, Council will be looking at the $96,000 proposal for transportation services.
If Council approves all of the internally generated project proposals as well as the transportation funding, without making cuts elsewhere in the budget, ratepayers will see a 5% increase in county taxes. The added paramedic shift in North Frontenac would result in a 6% budget increase on its own, bringing the total increase to over 11%.
Council is considering the budget on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and a tentative third date has been set aside on Wednesday, February 13th if they don’t get it done in two days.
It is anticipated that the budget document will come to the regularly scheduled February Council meeting (Wednesday, February 20) for final approval.
The good news is that the Central Frontenac capital budget for last year came in $270,000 less than what was budgeted for.
The bad news is that the Township still owes $2,162,569 for various loans.
These loans include $301,246 still remaining on the medical centre, $25,502 on solar installations, $396,034 on the 5th Lake Road project, $722,287 for fire equipment and $717,500 for public works equipment.
These revelations were presented by Central Frontenac Treasurer Michael McGovern at a special capital budget Council meeting last Thursday at the Fire Hall in Sharbot Lake.
If the budget were passed as presented, it would represent $3,071,808. Last year, it was $1,932,114.
“The capital budget is up $1.1 million over last year,” McGovern said.
That doesn’t include the operating budget, which the Township still has meet on.
However, McGovern said that according to Ministry standards, the Township is at 34 per cent of its loan ceiling.
“We’re trying to do everything,” he said. “(But) the Ministry would like us to keep it under 55 per cent (so, in theory) we could take out another $2 million in loans.”
In a perfect world, the fire department would like about $400,000 for a new tanker and Chief Greg Robinson said they’re “looking for a new $2 million station.”
Robinson declined to say where the new station would be located but the Township has built new stations in Sharbot Lake, Mountain Grove and Parham since amalgamation.
When it was acting Public Works Manager David Armstrong’s turn to present a wish list, a request for $120,000 for ½ ton trucks didn’t raise an eyebrow.
But when it came to discussion of Crow Lake Road and Henderson Road, everybody weighed in.
“Crow Lake Road is a road that’s totally in disrepair,” Armstrong said. “I’d like to look at repairs from Road 38 to the settlement area whether we get a (~ 50 per cent) grant or not.
“It’s a bit of a portal into our Township.”
Armstrong estimated it would take around $2.5 million “to get from 38 to just past the settlement.”
“I would say it’s the worst road in our Township,” said Coun. Bill MacDonald.
“I’ve seen them patch that thing and I think that’s a tremendous waste,” said Coun. Elwin Burke.
Armstrong also mentioned Westport Road and “two others,” one of which was Henderson Road.
“I’d also like to spend more money on ditching and rock removal,” Armstrong said. “The sidewalks in Sharbot Lake are a liability but that’s next year.”
There’s also the closing of Oso Waste Facility in 2023 to consider.
Clerk-Administrator Cathy MacMunn also brought up the notion of a new Township office including a Council Chambers to the tune of $900,000.
She cited noise and security as big concerns at the current office.
“We might not want to build a new office just yet,” said Dep. Mayor Victor Heese. “I’m not sure the current provincial government is done with municipal restructuring.”