| Feb 15, 2007

Feature Article - February 15, 2007

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Feature Article - February 15, 2007

Frontenac County approves 2007 budget with minor revisionsby Jeff Green

The Frontenac County budget has been passed, and county ratepayers will see an increase in their levy of just under 3% (2.94% to be exact).

The bulk of the budget had been approved on January 24th, leaving only three items outstanding, totalling less than $120,000 worth of expenditures in a budget that will see the county spend over $35 million on programs and services in 2007. Of that, $8.5 million will come from Frontenac County ratepayers.

The two major services that the county budgets for are the Fairmount Home for the Aged, for which the county increased the municipal levy by 3%, and the Frontenac Ambulance service, for which the county has decreased the levy by 1.5%

The issue that dominated the discussions at the final budget meeting was a proposed $46,500 contribution to the Rural Routes Transportation Service.


Rural Routes is based in Sharbot Lake and provides public transportation for a fee, using volunteer drivers, to residents of Central and North Frontenac, as well as the Bedford District of South Frontenac.

Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek had expressed concern at the January 24th budget meeting over the implications of the county taking on public transit. The mayors all met with Rural Routes in between the two budget meetings, and as the debate started on February 12th, Vanden Hoek said he was willing to support the $46,500 expenditure, provided it was made clear that the money was clearly defined as transitional funds only.

“As part of county council, I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I am willing to talk every year about transit,” he said. “I’m not willing to support the budget with Rural Routes in it, but if this can be done as a one-time grant in some way, then I won’t oppose it.”

Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski and County Warden Ron Maguire from North Frontenac both wanted to keep the door open for county funding in future years, while South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison’s position was aligned with that of Jim Vanden Hoek.

Further complicating the debate was the question of eligibility for provincial transportation funding, and a protracted discussion ensued, with a variety of proposals concerning the money being brought forward

Finally, Mayor Vanden Hoek was fed up.

“I’m concerned enough at this point that I think that Rural Routes should be deleted from the 2007 budget.”

A final compromise was then reached. The Rural Routes line item was deleted from the budget, but a contingency line for $46,500 was added, under the heading “place hold project”. Whether or not that money will go to Rural Routes or into a reserve fund is to be considered at the March 12th county council meeting.

Two other issues, a $50,000 business continuity plan for the county and the four townships, and a request for $22,000 from RURAL VISONS in Sydenham for a homelessness prevention initiative, neither of which would impact the final outcome of the budget, were also deferred for later discussion.

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