| Mar 24, 2005

Feature article, March 25, 2005

Feature article March 25 2005

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Central Frontenac Council considering 2% tax rate decrease - and notes from Council

by Jeff Green

In their penultimate kick at the budget can, Central Frontenac Council has, through a straw vote, given tentative approval to a 2% decrease in the tax rate for ratepayers.

The decrease in taxation has come about in spite of two key factors. The township actually has a marginally lower amount of property assessment to apply the tax rate to in 2005 because the bulk of properties have has their assessments frozen for the year. Secondly, the County of Frontenac levy, which accounts for about 20% of the Central Frontenac, came in at an 8.7% increase, and the Education levy, accounting for another 20%, was the same as 2004.

So, before beginning their deliberation on the 60% of the budget that they actually control, Council was already looking at a 1.7% increase. In order to come out with a 2% decrease, it was necessary to curtail their own requirements from taxation by 6%.


To do so required savings from various departments. As well, the potential cost to the township that will come about only if it is successful in a grant application to a Federal/Provincial infrastructure program for repairs to Road 38 will be financed through a debenture, a financing of the project over time.

The township cannot finalise their budget until they receive information on policing costs, and have been using last years numbers for policing in their budgetary considerations thus far.

As well, through the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, the township has been lobbying for monies that were supposed to be paid to it through the Community Reinvestment Funding (CRF) program, which is supposed to compensate municipalities for the cost of providing services downloaded to them from the Province. The funds are forwarded each year based on previous years costs, and were supposed to be topped up to the actual costs at the end of the year. This has not happened for 2004, and would mean a boon to the township if indeed the Province comes through with the money. Central Frontenac will complete their budget for 2005 in the next few weeks, and any additional monies that may come through the so called CRF reconciliation will go into a reserve fund for the 2005 budget year.

Council will have on more budget meeting, and the budget with then be passed at a regular Council meeting, presumably sometime in late April or early May.

Regular Central Frontenac Council meeting

Central Frontenac Council had a light agenda for their March 22 meeting, partly because they had met just eight days earlier, and that allowed them to spend more time than they normally might have on items of minor financial significance.

? A request came to the township for $100 as a contribution towards a memorial passageway onboard HMCS Cataraqui to honour 52 Kingston area Naval Officers who died in the service of Canada during the 2nd World War.

I would like to see us support this, said Councillor Frances Smith. I think we should keep in mind what these people did for us. But I dont think this should come from Municipal dollars, said Councillor Bob Harvey.

As the discussion carried on, it became clear that while the Councillors did not want to appear disrespectful towards officers who had given their lives for their country, they were reluctant to spend municipal money on the project.

Finally, Mayor MacDonald suggested sending a letter of support and forwarding the funding request on to the Legions in Arden and Sharbot Lake. This allowed Council to avoid voting no to the request without having to spend the $100.

? Later a request from the Tweed News for Central Frontenac to renew a page ad in a tourist brochure they produce for distribution throughout the summer was considered. Councillor Bill Guigue, an outspoken opponent of this expenditure last year, has not mellowed over time.

I know this will pass, but I was against it last year and Im against it this year, he said. Lets look at the ad. What does it say? We have dining and accommodations, beautiful scenery, shopping, those are all unique to Central Frontenac. For $160 we are not getting our monies worth.

Nonetheless, as Bill Guigue predicted, Council decided to renew the ad.

? Unlike the HMCS Cataraqui and the Tweed News requests, a motion from the Town of Hanover was approved without debate, much to the surprise of Mayor Bill MacDonald.

The Town of Hanover requested support for a motion which asserts that Policing costs are getting beyond the ability to pay for most municipalities in Ontario, and that most of police budgets are made up of wages and benefits, negotiations for which do not include municipal politicians. It also asserts there are inequities in the way municipalities are treated in terms of capping on police costs and reconciliation through the Community Reinvestment Fund, and resolves that a municipal representative be appointed to take part in salary deliberations between the Province and Police and that the financial burden of policing be looked at as part of a Community Reinvestment review by the Province.

Mayor MacDonald asked Council how they could spend 15 minutes talking about $100 and 6 minutes talking about a $160 ad, but no time talking about policing, which cost $740,000 to the township this year.

We agreed with the motion, replied Francis Smith.

? Reports from ROMA: Several councillors attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference in Toronto last month, and were given an opportunity to report back. Councillors Nicolson, Murray, Guigue and Harvey attended. They all said it was a good opportunity to talk to other municipal politicians, and found the workshops useful. However, both Logan Murray and Bill Guigue said the format of the workshops did not foster an in depth consideration of any topic and questioned whether they will go back next year.

Mayor MacDonald said the conference gives an opportunity to meet with the decision makers on the provincial level. Without the attraction of a conference like this, it would be difficult to meet with so many provincial politicians. And if you think all the meetings we had with Ministers through our Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus were polite exchanges, you would be surprised. We said what we had to say.

? Zoning change: Earlier in the meeting, Marcel Giroux appeared as agent for David Seeds, who was looking for a zoning change which would allow the building of an accounting office on a lot on Elizabeth street that was zoned as residential. The small, 0.22 ha (0.54 ac) lot would require a planting strip in order to comply with comprehensive zoning by-law stipulations concerning locations where a commercial zone abuts a residential zone. A report by township planner Glenn Tunnock recommended approval of the application provided proper approval can be obtained from the Health Unit and there were no strong objections from any neighbours to the lot. A bylaw amending the zoning was passed.

? Two road allowance closures, one for King Stinchcombe and one for William Flint, were also approved

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