| Nov 29, 2007


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Feature Article - November 29, 2007

Frontenac County Councilby Jeff Green

Frontenac County donates $54,000 annually to Kingston hospitals

The University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Kingston hospitals, asked Frontenac County for $1.87 million over 10 years to help with expansion projects at Hotel Dieu, Kingston General, and Providence Continuing Care hospitals.

They will have to settle for $540,000.

Frontenac County Council was presented with a range of options by county staff, including paying the entire request, which would have meant a 2.28% increase in county taxes.

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On the other end of the scale, since Hotel Dieu hospital recently sold the ambulance station on Palace Road in Kingston to the county-run ambulance service for $750,000, county staff floated the option of indicating to the Foundation “that it considers the purchase of the Palace Road property as its contribution to the campaign.”

The county is still unhappy about having to pay $750,000 to Hotel Dieu, because the hospital originally built the base using a provincial grant, and since then has only been paying a nominal fee of $5,000 annually to the City of Kingston to lease the land the base was built on.

While the University Foundation request was based on a calculation of just over $6.00 for each patient visit to the three hospitals in 2005-2006, the Frontenac mayors were drawn to a cheaper option.

The University Hospitals Foundation request to the City of Kingston translates into 0.64% of the city’s tax levy, and 0.64% of the Frontenac County tax levy amounts to a donation of $54,000 each year, which the Frontenac mayors favoured.

“I’d like to have gone further, but I think that’s all we can afford,” said South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison.

Janet Gutowski and Jim Vanden Hoek from

Central Frontenac and Frontenac Islands respectively, agreed.

Warden Ron Maguire was interested in an even less expensive option, and asked how much the county would be donating if the multiplier of 0.44% was used, which is the amount pledged paid towards a previous health care funding scheme. After some quick calculating, County Treasurer Marian Vanbruinessen said it would amount to $37,000 per year. With three mayors supporting a $54,000 annual donation, Maguire did not press the issue.

Budget for conferences established – In response to a request a few months ago from Frontenac Islands Mayor Vanden Hoek for compensation for expenses he incurred securing an election to the County Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the county decided to look at the entire issue of external activities of members.

A report, Governance – remuneration for additional duties was presented. It delineated the kinds of activities the county would support as the Frontenac mayors attempt to raise the profile of the county on a regional and provincial basis. It recommended setting aside $30,000 to $40,000 in the 2008 budget for that purpose.

“I think we should start on the low end,” said Jim Vanden Hoek, “making $30,000 an upset limit.”

The matter was forwarded to budget deliberations.

Library to cost county ratepayers more in ’08 –

Deborah Defoe, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, presented the library budget to Frontenac County Council. It calls for an increase of $36,390 in the levy to the county, or 4.49%. Included in the increase are capital costs for a new materials identification system, which is replacing scanning technology with a radio frequency technology to save staff time checking books in and out, other technological upgrades, and a projected increase in labour costs.

“We don’t know what our labour costs will be,” Defoe said, “because as you know, we are unionized and 2008 is a negotiation year, so we went with our best estimate.”

Preliminary budget – County Council will have its first look at the 2008 budget estimates this week.

New warden elected – As is the county’s custom, Warden Ron Maguire tendered his resignation after serving one year, effective December 1. Current Deputy Warden Jim Vanden Hoek was elected as Warden for 2008, and Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski will become Deputy Warden in 2008, putting her in line to be the Warden in 2009. In the final year of the term, 2010, South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison will likely be the County Warden.

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