| Apr 28, 2005

Feature article,April 28, 2005

Feature articleApril 28, 2005

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Two percent decrease in tax rate in Central Frontenac to be approved on May 9

by Jeff Green

Central Frontenac Council took a short last look at the township budget at their Council meeting this Tuesday, receiving some updated data from township treasurer Judy Gray, and then they approved the budget in principle.

Among the new information Judy Gray brought to Council was the net increase in funding for 2005 that results from the new funding formula from the Province of Ontario, a one-time increase of $357,000. Since the provincial transfers for 2006 are still unclear, and there is a prospect of significant policing cost increases, Gray recommended the township follow the path suggested by Mayor MacDonald and put the extra money into reserves. She also pointed out that the townships reserves have been shrinking in recent years, and could use some replenishing.


Policing costs are increasing by $100,000 this year, Gray reported, but Council will be saving $70,000 from earlier budget projections because their application to the Canada Ontario Municipal Infrastructure Renewal (COMRIF) Project was rejected and they had allocated $70,000 to the proposed COMRIF project in 2005.

A one-time $50,000 grant that has been received by the townships fire department has simply been added to the fire department training budget for the year.

All in all, Judy Gray suggested all of the new figures need not affect the overall budget outlook, and the 2% decrease in the tax rate that was accepted at the last budget meeting should be maintained. A motion to accept the budget projections and prepare a budget bylaw was approved unanimously, although Councilor Logan Murray pointed out that doesnt mean the final budget will be approved unanimously.

Dump Amnesty retained

In the past three years taxpayers have received a card with their June tax bill that entitled them to one free dump load, excluding tires. Council considered its dump amnesty program, and a report from staff said that the program has increased in popularity in the three years it has been in existence. In 2002, 29% of the passes were used, in 2003, 32%, and in 2004, 37%.

A suggestion was made that the passes not be accepted at the Elbow Lake and Arden sites, which are near to capacity and that the program be put in place for 2005, with the passes expiring on Thanksgiving weekend.

Councillor Logan Murray was opposed. Im against amnesty days. I think they are not sound environmentally. We need to give the people the idea that they need to conserve, and this sends the wrong kind of message.

Every other Councillor contradicted Murray.

Councillor Bob Harvey said amnesty days help to educate people that garbage should go in the dump and not at the side of road. Its also a good gesture on our part. It shows the people we are willing to meet them half way. The free load pass will be included with the June tax bill once again this year.

Voice Mail hotline IT technologist Chris Matheson responded to a request from Council to investigate he feasibility of a single point of contact for the public to communicate service requests. He presented two options: a 24/7 call centre outsourcing option, at a cost of $500 to $1000 per month; or a voice mail hotline, which would involve leaving a voice mail message, which would then be emailed to an address. This option would cost $42 per month. Council was clearly attracted to option 2 for reasons of cost, and the system will be implemented and studied to determine how best to route the messages so the appropriate person can receive them as quickly as possible.

Murray concerned about new hiring

Councillor Murray expressed his distaste for the new positions that have been created in the roads department, and for which the candidates were to be confirmed at the meeting. The three positions are that of roads superintendent, a road viewer, and a mechanic.

Councillor Murray made a motion to impose a hiring freeze which would have circumvented the hiring, but other Councillors argued that the process was too far along.

We decided as a Council to create these positions, and have advertised the positions and conducted interviews. We cant turn back now, said Councillor Frances Smith.

Murray said My motion came out of the fact that the interviewing process was flawed, also part of the information that we were given was untrue. Some of us were told that a road viewer was mandatory, and it turns out it wasnt. If we knew that, we might not have created that position I think we should conduct a review, Murray said.

Murray also mentioned that he had been confined, as a Councillor, to only one of the three hiring committees, whereas other Councillors sat on more than one of the committees.

I canvassed other wardens at the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, and the vast majority said Councillors should never sit on hiring committees. Councils decide to create a position, and staff takes care of the hiring, said Mayor MacDonald.

Before we create a position, we should know if it is required, and that didnt happen in this case, said Murray.

In the end the hiring was approved in a 7-2 vote, with Councillors Murray and Snider voting against the hiring.

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