Members of North Frontenac Council made short shrift of the 2018 township budget on Monday morning (January 28), working through the entire document, approving a couple of small tweaks, and approving it in principle in time for a late lunch.
The only major change they made to the document was to fund half of the $110,000 increase in the Ontario Provincial Police requisition with reserve funds instead of tax levy dollars. A $55,000 cut in the levy represents almost a 1% difference, dropping a projected increase of 2.37% in the draft budget to 1.41% in the final document. In real dollars, North Frontenac ratepayers will kick in $5.85 million this year, $88,000 more than the $5.77 million they paid in 2017. The other factors that make up the property tax bill will not have a major impact this year either, since the increase in Frontenac County taxes of about $60,000 is offset by a decrease in education taxes of about $45,000.
North Frontenac township did face some increased costs this year, including $50,000 as a first payment towards an Infrastructure Ontario loan to cover repairs and upgrades to the township office. They are also spending $100,000 extra for winter road maintenance, as well as the $55,000 extra for policing. On the other side of the ledger, the township benefited from an increase in its Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) allocation. The OMPF is a fund set up by the Province of Ontario to help rural and remote municipalities. This year the allocation to North Frontenac jumped by $234,000, to over $1.6 million.
“We did really well this year from the OMPF, and that helped us to cover some of the increased budget pressure,” said Chief Administrative Officer Cheryl Robson.
Among new spending in the budget is $35,000 towards funding the phase-in for increased planning costs. At their regular meeting on Friday, January, 26, the township decided to stay with Frontenac County Planning Services even though costs are set to rise as the department adds a new senior planner. Some of the $35,000 increase in the line item for planning is to cover year one of the phase-in of those costs ($11,000) and the rest ($24,000) to cover township staffing costs related to planning.
Mayor Ron Higgins said he is very pleased with the budgeting process this year, “and in all four years we have done well. We have build up our reserves to the point where we could use $55,000 to offset increased OPP costs this year and keep the increase to 1.4%, under the inflation rate.”
He said he is “thrilled with the levy increases this council has been able to bring in, and with the impact of some of the changes that have been made at the staff level as well, which have paid off both in terms of cost and in terms of service.”
On the issue of the contract with Frontenac County for planning service, which is set to rise each year for the next three, he said that he does not see North Frontenac ever pulling out of the contract.
“We could never get a better price for planning services by going to a contract planner,” he said.