| Apr 20, 2006


Feature Article - April 20, 2006

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Feature Article - April 20, 2006

County considers how to divvy up infrastructure money

by JeffGreen

Frontenac township councils will be looking for money to help pay for basic infrastructure, mainly road maintenance, when Frontenac County Council meets this week.

The county received the money from two programs, the

federal/provincial Gas Tax rebate, a five-year program, and a one-time payment from the province, called MOVE Ontario , that sprung out of the recent provincial budget.

The four Frontenac townships have already received their own allocations from the two programs, and in each case, the County of Frontenac received an identical amount to the combined total of how much the four townships received. Since Frontenac County does not maintain physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, county council is expected to give the money directly to the townships.

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Both North and South Frontenac township councils have passed resolutions asking that the county do just that.

North Frontenac Township would like the county portion of these funds allocated differently than the way the money was passed out by the province, because it was done on the basis of the number of permanent residents in each jurisdiction, leaving North Frontenac with no funding support for the 78% of their residents that are seasonal.

At a North Frontenac Council meeting on April 13, Mayor Ron Maguire asked his council for direction on how hard to push his colleagues on county council to distribute its portion of the two grants based on property assessment rather than the number of permanent residents in each township.

Based on a permanent resident population of 1801, North Frontenac will receive $146,308 from the gas tax program over 5 years, and received $76,537 from Move Ontario . South Frontenac, with a permanent resident population of 16,415, will receive $1,333,508 from gas tax revenues over 5 years, and received $607,590 from Move Ontario . Central Frontenac, with a permanent resident population of 4,557, will receive $370,149 from the gas tax program over 5 years, and received $193,659 from Move Ontario .

If, as North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire would prefer, property assessment had been used as the basis to calculate who gets what, the county portion of the money would be divvied up differently. There are about 10 permanent residents in South Frontenac for each 1 in North Frontenac, and thus South Frontenac received about 10 times as much funding as North Frontenac; however, it would only receive four times the funding if the formula had been based on property assessment.

“We need to provide roads and bridges for our seasonal residents, and they pay taxes, but they get no benefit from these programs,” North Frontenac Councilor Bud Clayton said as North Frontenac Council urged Mayor Maguire to try and address the imbalance when Frontenac County Council decides how to divide up the money.

“The county taxes us based on the amount of assessment we have, so they should allocate this money to us in the same way,” said Councilor Betty Hunter.

Since both of the infrastructure programs are designed to subsidize the cost of maintaining and improving roads and bridges, it could be argued their allocation should have been determined on the basis of how many kilometers of road there are in each township. There are 520 kilometres of road in North Frontenac; 792 in South Frontenac; and 576 in Central Frontenac.

This issue will be considered at the county council meeting on April 19. “There’ll be a wild and wooly debate at the county level,” said Maguire.

Mayors MacDonald from Central Frontenac and VandenHoek from the Frontenac Islands have not said publicly how the money should be allocated.

South Frontenac Mayor (and current County Warden ) Bill Lake , said that “the money came in according to population and should really go out in the same way.”

He did say, however, that he might be somewhat flexible about how the county portion of the gas tax money is reallocated, but not the MOVE Ontario money.

“South Frontenac pays well over half of the bills at the county, so if there is some money coming back we should be getting our fair share.”

A recent report from county staff mentioned possible uses of some of the monies for county-managed projects. This possibility was raised at a meeting of South Frontenac Council, prompting an angry response from Councilor Don Smith.

“The problem I have with them keeping the money is that it’s going to be used to solely to build their empire,” Smith said.

All of the townships are keen to have the matter resolved so they can use the money when they consider their own budgets in the coming weeks.

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