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.