| May 18, 2006


Feature Article - May 18, 2006

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Feature Article - May 18, 2006

Central Frontenac approves budget

by JuleKochBrison

At a meeting last Thursday May 11, Central Frontenac Council approved the budget basically as it had been drafted by township staff, with a few minor amendments.

An increase in property assessment values of 16% has provided a windfall for the township, enabling Council to decrease the tax rate by 9% and still have a 6.6% overall increase in revenue raised from taxation. The increase in taxes averages out to 6.7% more per property.

In total, the township will be collecting $4.08 million from taxpayers in 2006 as compared to $3.7 million in 2005, but 2005 was an unusual year in that the levy went down from the previous year. (The levy in 2004 was $3.97 million).

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The major project the township is undertaking this year is the reconstruction of road 38. The township must raise $1.3 million but the impact on this years’ budget will be minimal because the project will be funded through a low interest loan. A COMRIF grant to Central Frontenac will provide $4.3 million towards the $6.4 million dollar project, and the township has $695,000 in reserves for the project.

Councillor Jack Nicolson noted that the township has $1.5 million in total reserves and he suggested using some of that, perhaps $170,000, for Road 38. Mayor Bill MacDonald said he was not in favour of depleting the reserves; that if there was a downturn in the economy, the reserves could plunge.

Councilor Janet Gutowski pointed out that there are other infrastructure needs, such as two new fire halls. $500,000 has been earmarked for the construction of a new fire hall in Sharbot Lake , and there is $175,000 in reserves for a new fire hall in Mountain Grove.

Councillor Murray said that $100,000 should be added to the $500,000 and two fire halls should be built for $775,000. “If North Frontenac can do a four-bay for $275,000, we can do with a smaller building with some of the features taken out,” he said.

(editors note: The four bay fire hall under construction in North Frontenac includes a $273,495 building contract plus $35,000 in costs for work that has been done by township crews for a total of $308,495. The actual cost for the hall should be known soon after it is completed in early June.)

Other councillors expressed doubt that the Sharbot Lake hall could be done for less than $500,000. Bill MacDonald said the debate on whether to build one or two fire halls this year could come later. Murray ’s suggestion was defeated in a 6-2 vote.

Council did decide to cut the purchase of a utility ATV from the fire department’s budget. Mark MacDonald explained that currently fire fighters use their own ATVs and 4x4 trucks to carry their equipment in difficult terrain, and the township might recoup 45% of the cost through the JEPP program, but the request was defeated in a 4-4 vote.

Bill Snyder objected to the township contributing to its employees’ RRSPs through OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) Bill MacDonald countered that Central Frontenac is the only municipality around that doesn’t have a pension plan, and he said the township underpays its employees and council members.

Logan Murray said he has received many calls about the road patroller taking township vehicles home and said the township could save money by eliminating that practice, and perhaps even the road patroller position itself. Public Works Manager Bill Nicol said it is mandatory that the roads be patrolled. The methods of patrol could be different, but “Videos don’t lie”, he said.

Councilor Gutowski said that the decision about use of township vehicles would be a policy shift for council, but she was not in favour of eliminating the position of road patroller.

No money was allocated to finish paving the Oak Flats Road, and Councilor Bill Snyder again raised the issue, saying it was unfair that the road had been ignored.

Bill MacDonald denied that the road had been ignored, saying that $43,000 was spent on it in 2005. He added that if there were money left over in the roads budget, it would be up to Bill Nicol to recommend to council how that should be spent.

Over the years much of the Oak Flats has been repaved, but Bill Snider is concerned about a 1.1 km. stretch of the road which he says is badly in need of widening. After having little success in convincing the rest of Council of the need for repairs, Snider vowed to continue to advocate for the repairs.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” he told the News.

There were no increases in the salaries of the mayor and council included in the budget, but the mayor’s expenses, such as a fax machine and internet access, will be reimbursed.

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