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Feature Article - September 8, 2005

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September 8, 2005

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Frontenac County not likely to keep gas tax rebate

by Jeff Green

North and South Frontenac Township Councils don’t agree on how nearly $2,000,000 (over 5 years) in gas tax revenue should be split up, but they do agree on one thing: the County should pass the money on for use by township Councils.

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Earlier this summer, it was announced that the long promised gas tax rebate for municipal infrastructure was coming, and townships throughout Ontario will receive monies based on population. As well, County governments will be receiving an identical amount for their infrastructure needs. The complication in the case of Frontenac County is that it does not manage any of the infrastructure that the monies are designed to help fund: namely roads, bridges, sewage and water treatment plants, and waste management.

At the August meeting of County Council, an administration report was presented by the County Chief Administrative Officer Elizabeth Fulton. Her report says, in part, that allocations have been made to County governments “deliberately irregardless of the responsibilities held by the upper tier for transportation services”.

The report then says that, “a comprehensive assessment of potential projects is being undertaken by County staff. The review will culminate in an options paper for the consideration of Council.” Fulton’s report was received by County Council for information purposes at their August 10 meeting.

Subsequently North Frontenac Council met on August 18, and passed a two-part resolution. The resolution states clearly that Frontenac County “does not provide infrastructure services”, and asks that the “comprehensive assessment of potential projects being undertaken by County staff not be completed.”

Instead it recommends that the County share of the gas tax rebate be “distributed to the local municipalities”.

The Council of South Frontenac Township met this past Tuesday, and passed a motion that says, in part, “that the County of Frontenac apportion their share of the Federal Gas Tax Rebate to the lower tier municipalities…”

South and North Frontenac differ, however, on how they think the amounts to be transferred are calculated.

The gas tax rebate that has already been allocated to lower tier municipalities (townships) has been done based on permanent population. North Frontenac, with a permanent population of 1,800 will receive $146,308 over the next five years. South Frontenac, with a permanent population of 16,415, will receive $1,333,509 over the same period.

North Frontenac has complained that it will receive no funding for its seasonal residents, which number about 7,000.

As far as the way the County share of the gas tax revenue should be divvied out, North Frontenac wants the money to be allocated based on Current Value Assessment rather than population. In this way they will receive funding for each taxable property in the township.

This view is not shared by South Frontenac.

Gord Burns, Chief Administrative Officer for South Frontenac, prepared a report for Council, which concluded that allocating the County portion of the gas tax revenue by current value assessment rather than permanent residents would leave a net loss of to the Township of South Frontenac over the course of the five year period of $180,658.

“I can see no reason why distribution of the County share of the gas tax would be based on Current Value Assessment when the money was given to Frontenac County on the basis of population,” Burns said.

“It should also be remembered that the money is destined for infrastructure programs such as roads and bridges and given that the former County of Frontenac’s major infrastructure programs were former County roads and bridges which are now primarily located within the township of South Frontenac, it would seem only fair that the monies be distributed on a population basis,” he concluded.

County Warden Bill MacDonald did not want to comment directly on the resolutions coming to County Council from North and South Frontenac as regards the gas tax money.

“We haven’t had a discussion of the issues at the County level at this point,” he said. “That will happen later this month.”

MacDonald said that it might be possible for the County to keep a portion of the funds for certain projects that would be of benefit to all residents of the County, while still transferring much of the money to the townships.

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