| Aug 14, 2008

Aug 14/08 - CF Council

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Feature Article - August 14, 2008 Central Frontenac Council -Aug 11/08By Jeff Green

Central Frontenac Council held their only August meeting this week at the Kennebec Recreation Centre in Arden, and about 20 Arden residents showed up to watch.

Councillors defy Mayor to send message to County Council.

At their Aug 11 meeting, Central Frontenac Council passed a motion requesting that federal gas tax money which has been received by the county to fund sustainable infrastructure improvements, be divided up among the four “lower tier” municipalities in the county.

The townships themselves have received gas tax money, and the total amount the four townships have received is identical to the amount the county has received.

The gas tax funding agreement is a five-year arrangement which runs until 2010. Over the life of the arrangement, it will transfer a total of $2 million to Frontenac County. As well, based on population, Central Frontenac will receive $370,000, South Frontenac $1.37 million, North Frontenac $146,000 and Frontenac Islands $133,000.

The Central Frontenac Council motion calls for the county money to be divvied up in the same manner and transferred to the four municipalities.

The motion came about as the result of repeated questions by Councillor Gary Smith about the county’s plans for the money. “I've looked at the information coming from the county, and what I see is that everything the county is talking about refers to process. The county continues to sit on half of the gas tax money, and all it is concerned with is process. They are developing a screening process, but that screening process would not be necessary if the county decided to download its portion of the money,” he said.

The gas tax rebate for municipalities came about after years of lobbying, and is earmarked for sustainable infrastructure. Frontenac County is one of a few counties in Ontario that do not maintain any roads, bridges, or water systems.

Three other Ontario counties have downloaded their share of gas tax money to the township councils. Among these is Hastings County.

However, as Mayor Gutowski pointed out, all of the counties that transfer their gas tax money to their constituent townships do so under provisions in their Official Plans, and Frontenac County does not have an Official Plan.

“The county is in the midst of developing its Integrated Community Sustainablity Plan, or ICSP, which will include a process that is fair and equitable, and if we don't have such an appropriate process in place, we risk losing gas tax funding in future years,” Gutowski said. “The county needs to get through this process and then if we in Central Frontenac have a project that is viable, such as a salt dome that needs to be built, we will be able to apply for funding. Why should we limit ourselves to a fixed amount of money, when perhaps we will have a project that could gain greater dollars?” she asked.

Several months ago, Central Frontenac Council passed a motion asking Frontenac County Council to freeze the integrated community sustainability planning process. One of the concerns that was expressed was that the ICSP would open up gas tax funding to individuals and community groups that have projects they would like to pursue, leaving the township with no support for its infrastructure needs.

Council also passed a motion this past spring asking for money from Frontenac County’s gas tax reserves to build a salt dome at the Olden garage site on Highway 7.

“I'm reiterating my concerns today because our mayor has not acted on either of those motions. The crux of the problem is the inability of the mayors that sit on county council to take this on,” Gary Smith said.

Councilor Norm Guntensperger made a motion that the county gas tax money “be dispersed to the townships on the same proportion as the 50% that the townships already receive, to be used on sustainable projects. “

The motion won the support of every councilor.

Mayor Gutowski called the vote but did not raise her hand. “On some points we have to agree to disagree,” she said.

The meeting featured an extensive report from Public Works Manager John Simcock, which updated council on a series of public works projects.Simcock first informed council that four grader operators are scheduled to undergo a training course, at a cost of $800 each, with the money coming from the public works budget.

Councilor Bill Snyder wanted to know if any part-time, seasonal employees were being sent for training. “I do have a problem with sending people who aren’t full-time, who might take the training and find a job somewhere else,” he said.

“I think if people are employed with us, they are employed with us, and they should get the training if they show the capacity and desire for it,” said Councilor Frances Smith.

“The reason I've brought this up is that I've seen graders broken,” said Bill Snyder. “I've been here a long time. I believe in fairness, that's the bottom line, and I’ve seen people come in the back door. I can't say everything I think because this is a public meeting.”

Pesticides for poison ivy? Not yet – John Simcock said that he has two outstanding work orders to spray herbicides on some poison oak and poison ivy infestations near public beaches in the township.

“There is information about the triggering of Parkinson's disease with the use of herbicides and we also do not have anyone with the right classification to do the work. We are looking at hiring a contractor, so I'm coming to council for direction,” he said.

After a short debate about the merits and dangers of applying herbicides, Mayor Gutowski said “I sense that the majority of council would like to see signage where there are infestations this year, and do futher research next year.”

Gravel woes – John Simcock told council that he plans to put out a tender for $220,000, to tender out gravel crushing from the township’s own pits in September. $160,000 for the project will come from savings that are being realised through “re-profiling” some of the roads projects that are being completed this summer, and $60,000 from the gravel the township has received but will not be using.

“I would use the stuff we have if I could,” said Simcock.

Further deliberations on the gravel issue were conducted in an in camera session.

Vehicles to be scrapped – Four township vehicles, which Simcock said contain boxes with holes in them, bad transmissions, etc. are to be taken off the road.

Road washout costs rise – The cost of repairing the 2nd Depot Lake Road washout has ballooned to over $214,000. The manager of the Quinte Conservation Authority has informed the township that he is prepared to submit a request to the MNR for grant assistance in the hopes of receiving a grant for half of the cost, which would cut the township’s cost to $107,000.

Request denied – John Simcock said the public works department has been gathering up old scrap metal from township works yards and quarries and selling it. $5,000 has been raised thus far and John Simcock said “we will raise $20,000 when we are through with this.”

He proposed that, in a gesture of support between township departments, a portion of the projected $20,000 be used to purchase a 2006 Kawasaki 4x4 for just under $10,000, to be used by township fire crews in fighting fires in remote and brush locations.

Simcock said that Fire Chief Mark MacDonald said “he thought it would be a great idea” and Deputy Chief Bill Young was in attendance at the meeting in support of the request.

“I think it's a good idea,” said Frances Smith.

“I think we should take our time on this,” said John Purdon, “it might be shared by all crews now but the next step is we might have requests for one of these in every hall.”

“I just think it is not important at all,” said Bill Snyder, “It's just a play toy.”“It's a nice gesture, it's nice that Deputy Chief Young came, but frankly I think our Fire Chief needs to be running his own department,” said Norman Guntensperger.

“My feeling is there is no consensus,” concluded Mayor Gutowski.

Pay attention to Beaver Dams – Flooding from beaver dams has been a problem in the township this year, and a major flooding problem has occurred on the Boundary Road with South Frontenac. since it is a shared road, Simcock has been talking to South Frontenac works manager Mark Segsworth about it.

“They are having lots of problems with beaver dams this summer as well, more than normal,” Simcock said.

He then said the township would appreciate hearing from property owners about beaver dams on their property so the township can work on removing them, as they can cause dangerous flooding on township roads. The township’s phone number is 613-279-2935.

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