Jeff Green | Dec 13, 2007
Feature Article - December 13, 2007 Back toHome Feature Article - December 13, 2007 Central Frontenac cool to Crow Lake request – Dec. 10, 2007 By Jeff Green
Ludwig Ratzinger and Joe Slater appeared before Central Frontenac Council representing the Crow Lake Schoolhouse Committee, which has been working to upgrade the schoolhouse as a community facility for several years now. Their efforts culminated in a renovation project that was partially funded with a grant from the Trillium Foundation.
Ludwig Ratzinger said that the Crow Lake Schoolhouse Committee has had a difficult time covering all of the capital costs involved in bringing the hall up to standard, as well as some fixed operating costs. And they are struggling to get an $8,000 debt, left over from the construction project, paid off this year.
“We feel like we want to move forward but we have a cinder block on our backs,” Ratzinger said. “We want to provide good programs, and workshops for the local people, and once we pay our debt, we feel we can cover our expenses.”
The committee is asking for financial support in six areas. The most expensive is the $9500 cost of re-siding the main building in order to make it similar to the addition that was built. The list also includes $700 for repainting the interior of the building, $800 for ceiling fans, and $3,400 for an electric generator to power the facility so the schoolhouse can be used as a local emergency center. As well, there are two items that are annual costs: the committee would like the schoolhouse to be covered under the township’s insurance, thus saving $1,200, and would like the township to cover the $700 cost of yard maintenance.
The total of all the requests is $16,000.
“This does not all have to be done, or all done right away,” Ludwig Ratzinger said.
Councilor John Purdon said he was unfamiliar with the relationship between the township and the school house.
Joe Slater explained that the school closed in 1964, and it was owned by Oso Township after that. The villagers ran the hall under an informal agreement. After Central Frontenac came into existence, a simple lease was developed.
“These are things we have not covered in the past, and will have quite a significant budgetary impact,” Mayor Janet Gutowski said to Ratzinger and Slater. “Council will have to look at how we proceed. We run the other halls on our own, and if we got into this we might find a different relationship would result. I would certainly like to see some support, but what form it takes we will have to see.
The township owns and manages four other halls, and pays all costs and collects rental fees for them out of the township office.
Organizational Review in Central Frontenac
Consultant Bill Winegard appeared before Central Frontenac Council this week to brief council on the organizational review process he has been hired to oversee.
Winegard outlined the tasks that his team has been charged with and said he expects to present an interim report to council in January. “We intend to bring the report to a public meeting for comment at that time,” Winegard said, “and we should have a final report, with cost implications, to you by February.”
The Organizational Review is something that Mayor Janet Gutowski has been trumpeting ever since she was elected one year ago. There were five rookies among the nine new councilors after the election, and Gutowski was new to the mayor's position. In addition, Clerk-Administrator Heather Fox left, and an interim clerk, John Duchene, was hired. Public Works Manager Bill Nicol also resigned, but a replacement has not been found.
While it has been a difficult year for the township, the lack of people in a couple of senior positions will create more flexibility for the administrative review.
“We don't expect to approach this by recommending you hire a lot of people,” Bill Winegard said.
The consultants will comment on the terms of reference of staff, the “capacity of the organization, the so-called bench strength”, and will be looking at how the personnel are clustered together. Making the most efficient use of existing staff will be a major feature of the recommendations, according to Winegard
One thing that Winegard said the review would not likely be recommending is a change in the number or makeup of council itself.
“We were asked to look at the size and makeup of council and we don't see that the costs of council are out of line with other townships, or that the wards are unfairly represented since they all have similar populations. While we will make recommendations, it is a fairly minor issue,” he said.
The review team has met with the fire chief and deputies; with representatives from the recreational committees; with some staff members; and individually with some councilors. An in camera meeting with the entire council is taking place this week as well.
Mountain Grove Fire hall – According to a project list, the Mountain Grove Fire hall is slated for completion by the end of January, but the project is about a month behind. “The contractor is still hoping to catch up,” said CAO John Duchene.
One of the budget items connected to the fire hall is $10,000 for bringing hydro to the hall. “However, there really aren’t any hydro poles that are close to the hall,” said John Duchene. The township will be looking to see if a contractor can be found to put in the required poles at a lower cost than Hydro One can offer.
Councilor Norman Gutensperger wondered if there were any savings when the well was drilled for the hall, but it turned out that the well drillers had to go 200 feet deep before finding enough water, so there were no savings.
Tariff of fees – Township planner Cathy MacMunn presented an outline of the actual costs the township incurs when preparing planning applications. Under the current system, applicants pay a fee, and are then charged an additional amount based on the amount of other staff work that is sometimes required to complete the process.
“If we have a tariff of fees, applicants will know up front what the costs will be, which is something people have said they would prefer,” MacMunn said.
The proposed tariff of fees, which council has yet to approve, is as follows: minor variance - $500; site plan approval - $3,200; Official Plan amendment - $2,200; Zoning bylaw amendment - $2,000; Plan of subdivision - $4,200; Consents - $550; and part lot control or validation of title - $700.
Absentee Deputy Mayor – the old adage about never missing a meeting or else you’ll get appointed to something came true for long-serving Oso Councilor Bob Harvey. He was unable to attend because of illness, but was appointed as Deputy Mayor for 2008 nonetheless.
“I spoke to him today, and he said that he was interested in the position,” said Mayor Gutowski.
Heritage Festival Committee struck – Council formally appointed Jane Drew, Tom Dewey, John Purdon, Carol Coupland, Marcel Giroux and Janet Gutowski to a committee that will run the second annual Frontenac Heritage Festival from February 18 - 24. The committee has already been meeting and planning of the festival is well under way. Anticipated events include a pond hockey tournament, a variety show, a Family History Evening, and outdoor activities such as cross country skiing.
Building report – With one month left in 2007, and snow now firmly entrenched on the ground, the construction season has basically wound down. Permits for 40 new homes were taken out in Central Frontenac so far in 2007, as compared to 31 at the same time in 2006, and 47 in 2005.
The total value of construction in 2007 now stands at $8,808,000 (including the $1.5 + million medical centre project). At the same point in 2006, the total was $6,893,000, and in 2005 it was $7,621,000.
The total number of permits this year has been 183, as compared to 162 last year, and 217 in 2005.