There is a new South Frontenac Council, but the instructions to the Treasury department and the various department heads within the township has not changed with turnover. The target for a budget increase for township delivered services remains at a 2% increase for the average ratepayer.
Township staff have more leeway with the budget than it appears however, because the township received a 1.2 % increase in revenue as the result of growth, recent construction of both new homes and renovations to existing homes that adds to the assessment base.
In terms of raw dollars, the budget that was presented to North Frontenac Council last Saturday morning (January 26) called for a total of $1,974,000 to be raised by taxation, an increase of $525,000 from the $1,913,000 that was raised last year. That translates to a 3.2% increase, with 1.2% being offset by the assessment growth mentioned above.
The average property in South Frontenac was valued at $257,000 in 2018, and through the phased in assessment system that the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) uses, that average value is up to $261,000 this year. If the draft budget that was presented to Council on Saturday were approved as is, that average property would have a tax increase of $31.
Council made some proposed changes to the budget document at their meeting, said Treasurer Louise Fragnito, including a request for an extra $20,000 to be allocated to community grants, in order to support festivals within the township. Council also sought clarification concerning some of the Capital Works projects that were included in the budget.
There is one major unknown that Fragnito does not expect to see clarified before the budget is approved. The province of Ontario is revising the program with the intent of saving money and narrowing the focus onto rural and remote municipalities, which could lead to a decrease in revenue for South Frontenac. The township received $1.52 million last year, and Fragnito has plugged that number into the new budget.
“We don’t know when they will announce the changes and what the impact will be on South Frontenac. We will have to make an after-budget adjustment when the new Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) announcement is made.” she said.
Fragnito expects she will bring a revised draft budget to the February 12th Committee of the Whole meeting for discussion, followed by the formal adoption of the 2019 budget on February 19th.
The local budget levy figures will be combined with those provided by Frontenac County and the Ministry of Education to make up the total levy to ratepayers.
The Frontenac County budget process is kicking off on February 5.
Both the township and the county have established the practice of completing their budget process before the start of the calendar year. 2019 is an exception because there was a municipal election last fall and the outgoing council did not want to tie the hands of the incoming council by passing a budget for them. That means there will be a second budgeting exercise in 2019 in the township and the county, beginning in the early fall.