| May 25, 2006


Feature Article - May 25, 2006

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Feature Article - May 25, 2006

Moving money down the line

by Jeff Green

Frontenac County Council has agreed to distribute $1.04 million in one-time funding from the provincial government to the Frontenac townships. The decision came at a county council meeting on May 17.

The funds initially came to the county through the provincial Move Ontario initiative, a $400 million fund that was contained in the 2006 provincial budget. The money has been earmarked for northern and rural communities to help with road and bridge projects.

The townships also received Move Ontario funds directly from the province, which allocated an identical $1.04 million directly to them back in March. That money was distributed according to the number of permanent residents in each township. Thus, South Frontenac township received $697,590, Central Frontenac $193,659, North Frontenac $76,537, and the Frontenac Islands $69,610.

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Frontenac County does not maintain any roads and bridges, and a staff report in April recommended that the county’s share of the money be distributed among the townships; but an issue remained over how the money should be divided up.

North Frontenac Township argued that it was unfair to distributing the funds according to the number of permanent residents in each township would be unfair because almost 80% of the population base in North Frontenac is seasonal, and that the Move Ontario money should be divided up according to property assessment values within each township.

“The county collects money from the townships according to assessment and should pass money out in the same way,” argued North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire when the matter was first discussed at a county council meeting on April 19.

South Frontenac, on the other hand, whose population dwarfs that of the other three townships, argued that the money “came in to the county according to population and should be divided up in the same way,” in the words of South Frontenac Mayor Bill Lake at that same meeting.

A subsequent meeting was scheduled between senior staff of both the county and the four townships, resulting in a recommendation that the county share of Move Ontario funding be distributed according to weighted assessment. A motion to that effect was unanimously approved by county council on May 17.

As a result, the county will forward $606,581 to South Frontenac, $176,456 to Central Frontenac, $160,380 to North Frontenac, and $93,981 to the Frontenac Islands .

Although allocating the Move Ontario funds is now out of the way, the council and staff of Frontenac County are still charged with the similar, but more complicated matter of federal gas tax funding.

Based on an agreement with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the federal government has published a schedule of payments over five years with amounts going directly to the townships and an identical amount going to the county.

Although the gas tax funding is similar to Move Ontario in that it has been promoted as being devoted to rural infrastructure, there are added restrictions concerning how the gas tax funds can be used, and an annual report on their use must be supplied to AMO.

County staff recommended that further study be done before county council decides what to do with these funds.

For 2005, Frontenac County received $238,000 in gas tax money, and spent $30,000 from that money on a county-wide global information systems study. The rest of the money, some $208,000, has not been allocated

Over the five-year agreement, the county will receive just under $2 million in federal gas tax money.

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