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.