| Jan 25, 2007


Feature Article - February 1, 2007

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February 1, 2007

County budget nears completion: only two items outstanding -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------by Jeff Green

Frontenac County Council got some good news from staff last week when they sat down to consider their 2007 budget: the projected levy increase has dropped to 2.64% from 3.22% a week earlier.

Much of the county’s expenditures each year is linked to budgets for the Frontenac County Land Ambulance Service, which will see a 0.72% increase in the levy this year and the Fairmount Home for the Aged, which will see a 2.76% increase. In both cases, surplus funds from 2006 are being used to offset capital expenditures in the coming year.

Frontenac County Council approved the budgets for these two programs at their January 24th meeting. They are both funded by taxpayers from the City of Kingston as well as FrontenacCounty ratepayers, and will be discussed at a meeting of county and city politicians on February 12th. FrontenacCounty councilors wanted to go into that meeting with approved budgets for shared programs.

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Two items on the budget were flagged for further discussion by members of council. Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek sought further explanation from county staff for a $50,000 Business Continuity Project under the Emergency Management budget.

The budget package contains the following explanation of the project: “The County recognises that it will need to continue operations under emergency conditions. An amount has been allocated to hire a consultant to assist with business continuity. It is hoped that this resource can be accessed by the townships also.”

“I’m not entirely comfortable with this,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek, “It’s too grey for me.”

“We already have backup generators to deal with things like ice storms,” said County Warden Ron Maguire

Paul Charbonneau, the Emergency Services Co-ordinator for the County, described circumstances where townships of the county will need support. “What if your software fails, or a third of your staff is off with flu, or you have treasurer that will be away for a certain length of time. It’s really the soft issues that we are concerned about here. It would be beneficial to have fixed plans in place for these eventualities. The City of Kingston has $200,000 in their budget to do business continuity.”

“I see this planning as beneficial to do as a group. I don’t see our [township] staff being able to do this planning,” said Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski.

“I have some discomfort with the $50,000” Jim Vanden Hoek reiterated.

Elizabeth Fulton, the chief administrative officer with the county, said that the funding for the business continuity project would not be taken from municipal taxes in any event, so cutting it will not lead to a decrease in the levy to ratepayers. If approved, the project would only go ahead if councilors decided to spend some of the county portion of the Federal Gas Tax rebate on it. (see “An Open Letter to the Mayors”)

The second unresolved item in the budget is $46,500 in support of the Rural Routes Transportation Program.

Rural Routes is a user-pay service that provides rides to medical appointments and other services for people in North and Central Frontenac, as well as some parts of South Frontenac.

South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison said, “This is not much different from the ferry issue,” referring to the fact that the municipal portion of costs to run the ferry to Howe Island is funded entirely by ratepayers from the Frontenac Islands. “I think it should be area rated.”

“It’s a new service,” said Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski. I think it’s an extremely valuable service. There are opportunities to extend the service to South Frontenac.”

The $46,500 line item, which County Chief Administrative Officer Eizabeth Fulton understands will be devoted to covering administrative costs for Rural Routes, represents a little over 0.5% of the County levy. If it is removed, ratepayers would be left with a 2.1% increase in their county taxes over 2006.

Articles from January 18

Third time lucky for South, North Frontenac:The 3rd and final intake of submissions to the Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) resulted in funding support for relatively small initiatives in South and North Frontenac.

Flinton Habitat build: Executive members from the Prince Edward Hastings Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity met with the newly formed Flinton Build committee and the public at the Flinton Rec. Hall on Jan. 16

Biosphere, Committees, and the bridge: South Frontenac Council meetingThree strikes at Comrif for Addington Highlands: Addington Highlands Council meeting of January 15.Frontenac Heritage FestivalIt's Election Year, again: EditorialLetters

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