Editorials

Budget reporting for dummies

Written by  |  Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:28  |  Published in Editorials
Over the past few months I have been asked a couple of times to make sure that I let our readers know either that the average ratepayer will pay $34 more per $150,000 in assessment in one township; or that the tax rate increase is 0.03% in another township; or that the increase in another budget, when weighed against growth, is only 2%. As the dummy in this scenario I have decided to maintain my practice of recent years, to focus on numbers that I understand, on the thinking that if I at least understand something, maybe the readers will be able to understand what I am writing. That presupposes that I will make myself understood - not always a likely possibility, I know. What…

A Bureaucratic Gallop, Not a Creep

Written by  |  Wednesday, 20 April 2016 20:55  |  Published in Editorials
There is a concept called “bureaucratic creep”, which describes the tendency of organizations to develop more and more levels of bureaucracy over time. The number of people doing the actual work of the organization, be they factory workers, front-line social workers or road crews, stays the same or goes down, but the number of people overseeing that work, managing the employees, dealing with work flows, accountability, regulations, liability, the vision of the organization and so on, creeps up and up. On April 12, South Frontenac received an organizational review from StrategyCorp, a company that spends much of its time dealing with the federal and provincial levels of politics. StrategyCorp found that South Frontenac is a “lean organization” in comparison to similar-sized municipalities. This, it said,…

South Frontenac Council is deep in the weeds

Written by  |  Wednesday, 16 March 2016 19:10  |  Published in Editorials
Municipal councils set policy; they set budgets; and they provide oversight to ensure that everything is running well. It is not their job to run the township; that is the job of township staff. There is indeed a grey area in all this. Councilors are elected, and the people who elect them expect them to make sure everything is done right; that the garbage is picked up on time; the dumps are safe; the roads are cleared; property values will be protected; environmental regulations will be adhered to; etc. They need to sometimes poke their noses in operations to make sure everything is being done right, but they also need to be careful that they are not just getting in the way, slowing things down…

A little lesson in economic development

Written by  |  Thursday, 25 February 2016 07:45  |  Published in Editorials
As someone who owns a business that provides a service to other businesses, I have an interest in economic development in Frontenac County. What I've learned over the years is that business success is more about individual passion and drive than anything else. In recent months I have been working with some of my staff on a video project that was funded by Frontenac County. We have gone around to 20 businesses and made short promotional videos. Fifteen of them are now loaded on the Frontenac County Youtube channel, which can be reached most easily via a google search (Frontenac County Youtube channel) and the rest are coming. As well, we will be featuring some of those videos in the coming months in the paper.…

Land claim elector criteria coming under scrutiny as vote nears

Written by  |  Wednesday, 17 February 2016 15:25  |  Published in Editorials
Seven thousand and seven hundred Algonquin electors are eligible for a ratification vote on the Algonquin Land Claim Agreement in Principle between February 29 and March 7. Voting will take place in nine off-reserve communities, including Sharbot Lake, as well as at Pikwàkanagàn First Nation. The claim has been 25 years in the making, and now that the vote is near, questions that have been put aside for at least the last 10 years are now being raised. A report commissioned by the Kebaowek First Nation, an Algonquin community in Quebec also known as Eagle Village, which has a substantial territorial overlap with the Ontario claim, has researched the origin of a sample group of 200 Algonquins of Ontario electors. The results surprised the researchers;…

Liberals are wary of a referendum on electoral reform - but should hold one anyway

Written by  |  Wednesday, 20 January 2016 18:05  |  Published in Editorials
The new Liberal government finds itself dealing with harsh realities even before they deliver their first budget, as promises that looked good when sketched out as headlines in campaign literature documents get bogged down in the endless details of being turned into viable long-term policies and programs. The bold promise by Prime Minister Trudeau during the campaign, “This will be the last election ever held in Canada under the 'first past the post' system” is certainly a case in point. The campaign literature outlined the process, which the government, thus far at least, is committed to following. They will form a committee of parliamentarians, which will travel across the country to talk to Canadians about a number of systems that are used in other parliamentary…

Is the Denbigh ambulance service doomed this time around?

Written by  |  Wednesday, 13 January 2016 19:52  |  Published in Editorials
In 2008, politicians in Lennox and Addington (L&A) County were faced with the option of closing the Denbigh Ambulance Service and re-allocating resources to the south end of the county to satisfy an ever-increasing demand. At that time they resisted. In 2012 the same issue was before Council and that time they cut the Denbigh service in half, opening a new base in Loyalist Township and allocating one of the Denbigh shifts to the new base. Now, County staff recommend making Loyalist a 24-hour operation, and closing Denbigh. They also propose to start up a service in Stone Mills within a year or two. The arguments are the same now as they were in 2012. The Denbigh ambulance was called out 190 times last year.…

In for a penny...

Written by  |  Wednesday, 06 January 2016 16:22  |  Published in Editorials
It is disconcerting that Central Frontenac Council purchased Sharbot Lake Public School on November 24 for $110,000, and five weeks later had to hold an emergency meeting just four days before Christmas to decide to tear down the building. The emergency meeting was needed because after a site visit the week before, politicians and staff saw that the building was not viable and felt they needed a council decision before putting any more oil into the fuel tank of a building that needs to be torn down. The decision they made on December 21 seems prudent enough, but why did they not pay this kind of visit to the building before they bought it on November 24. Before spending $110,000 they should have made this…

A Year to Celebrate Frontenac County and Reveal its Weakness

Written by  |  Wednesday, 16 December 2015 17:07  |  Published in Editorials
This year in the paper, we looked backwards many times, running a year-long series of articles to mark the 150th anniversary of Frontenac County. Many of the articles, which will continue into 2016, were based on interviews with people from our communities who made their lives in this part of the world when it was a different world. At that time electricity was just coming in; communication infrastructure was just being developed; the world they lived in was smaller. But major global events, such as world wars, had an impact on their lives, and in the 1930s, people from all over Canada trudged up to meager farms near the K&P and CP railroad lines looking for a meal or a day's work. They came from…

The 2% Budget

Written by  |  Wednesday, 02 December 2015 19:26  |  Published in Editorials
This week South Frontenac passed their 2016 budget with a 2.00% increase in taxes. That sounds pretty reasonable. But when you look at the budget summary you see some other numbers. The first number that I look at with these budgets is the “levy to ratepayers”. That is the total amount of money that will be collected from the ratepayers In South Frontenac the number is about $16.5 million, up from about $15.5 million in 2015, an increase of 6.66%. How then, do we get 2.00% A 2.00 increase in the levy to ratepayers would mean a budget of $15.5 million, $700,000 less than the one that was approved on Tuesday night. That extra money is going to come from growth. South Frontenac's finance department…

On Pine Meadow funding

Written by  |  Wednesday, 25 November 2015 18:57  |  Published in Editorials
Two weeks ago, after years of fruitless requests, there was a chance that Frontenac County would approve a $105,750 grant, over 10 years, to support a capital project at Pine Meadow Nursing Home. The home is not located in Frontenac County. It is owned by a not-for-profit corporation and run by a volunteer management committee. However it has a unique connection to Frontenac County. A member of North Frontenac Council is appointed to the committee that oversees the home. Pine Meadow was built in the 1990s with the financial and volunteer support of groups and individuals from the former Kaladar Township in Lennox and Addington and Barrie Township in Frontenac County. That community support has remained constant ever since. Barrie Township (now ward 1- North…

Of Power Failures and Saying Goodbye

Written by  |  Thursday, 29 October 2015 08:30  |  Published in Editorials
It has been a strange week here at the News. A Tuesday power failure certainly put a kink in the works. Seven hours sitting around waiting for the power to come back so we could put the paper together was not exactly part of our plan. We attempted to fire up two different generators. The first one ran smoothly but did not put any power out. The second one certainly put out power, but just as the computers began kicking into life, one of the surge protector power bars popped, and seconds later sparks started flying out of another one. We shut the beast down and decided to wait it out. Some other odd things happened as well, nothing major, just enough to throw us…

Winners and losers in the 2015 election

Written by  |  Wednesday, 21 October 2015 20:09  |  Published in Editorials
It is not exactly news now that the biggest winner in the 2015 election was the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau, who have been given the right to push through their agendas without consulting any other party, even though they received less than 40% of the popular vote. Does that sound familiar? Locally, Scott Reid has won a sixth term in office in the new Lanark Frontenac Kingston (LFK) riding with a comfortable 48% of the vote. Adding Mississippi Mills and the portion of the City of Kingston north of the 401 to the riding in exchange for Lennox and Addington seems to have made little difference. The change did create an opening for the Liberals in the new Hastings Lennox and Addington riding, however,…

This time seems different, for what it is worth

Written by  |  Thursday, 08 October 2015 08:25  |  Published in Editorials
It would be a mistake to take the pulse of an election campaign, particularly one in a geographically diverse riding such as the new Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding, based on the tenor of a single meeting held in one of its corners. The riding is actually even larger, in a sense, than its wide boundaries would indicate. There is no community connection between Sydenham and Almonte, for example. Sydenham connects to Kingston, Toronto, Leeds Grenville, Lennox and Addington Counties, the 401 and Lake Ontario. Almonte connects to Ottawa, Montreal, Renfrew County, the Ottawa River and the 417. There is little or no overlap and if you ask people in Sydenham where Almonte is or vice versa you might as well be asking them where Pointe-au-Pic is. So,…

Time to focus on the election

Written by  |  Thursday, 01 October 2015 07:56  |  Published in Editorials
It's a stretch to say that election fever is about to grip the new Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding, but after going door to door for two months and appearing at dozens of events, the candidates are certainly campaign hardened. The rest of us have been enjoying some pretty good late summer weather, not too concerned with election issues. But like the buzz from a persistent mosquito, the election has been an unpleasant distraction from time to time. Now that, finally, voting day is almost within sight - we have Thanksgiving first after all - we need to pay it some attention. There are meetings scheduled this week and next to help us do just that. One was held last night at the Sydenham Legion, sponsored by the…
 

News From Across Frontenac

Click Here for More