| Jan 24, 2008

Feature Article - January 24, 2008.class { BORDER-RIGHT: black 1pt solid; BORDER-TOP: #000 1pt solid; BORDER-LEFT: black 1pt solid; BORDER-BOTTOM: black 1pt solid } .class1 { BORDER-RIGHT: #9f5128 1pt solid; BORDER-TOP: #9f5128 1pt solid; BORDER-LEFT: #9f5128 1pt solid; BORDER-BOTTOM: #9f5128 1pt solid } .class2 { FONT-SIZE: 8pt; COLOR: #666 }

Back toHome

Feature Article - January 24, 2008 Talking transit blues – Frontenac County budget by Jeff Green

Frontenac County staff have been working on the 2008 county budget for months, and this week the politicians will have their first real opportunity to weigh in on the county’s spending priorities for 2008.

In the second draft of the budget, which was presented to county council on January 16, the total expenditures of the county were set to go up marginally in 2008, but the amount county taxpayers will pay is slated to decrease by almost 3%.

If the draft budget were approved as submitted, property owners in the county would be paying $275 in county taxes for every $100,000 of assessment in 2008, as compared to just over $300 in 2007.

County taxpayers fund just over $8 million in county expenditures each year, while transfers from the Province of Ontario and the City of Kingston bring the total budget of the county to over $35 million. the bulk of that money goes to the two major services the county runs, Fairmount Home ($9.4 million) and the Frontenac Land Ambulance Service ($10.7 million)

The four-member Frontenac County Council is made up of the mayors of the four townships in the county, and when they begin to debate the budget this week they will likely spend most of their time talking about a few smaller expenditures, which will not have a major impact on the overall budget.

A proposed $40,000 grant to the Rural Routes Transportation service seems as likely to provoke a split between members of council this year as a similar proposal did in 2007.

In 2007, the county approved a $36,000 grant to the fledgling service, and commissioned a $10,000 transportation study.

The transportation study was supposed to be completed earlier last year, but only the first phase has thus far been completed. County Chief Administrative Officer Liz Savill said that a meeting is scheduled for January 31 that will bring all of the volunteer transportation service providers in the county together for the first time. “If the different organizations are open to cooperating in order to eliminate overlap and fill in service gaps, then we will proceed with the development of a business case,” Savill said, “but if not, we will not go any further.”

Citing the fact that Rural Routes is only active in the northern part of the county, South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison and Frontenac Islands Mayor Vanden Hoek were determined that the $36,000 payment in 2007 be seen as a one-time grant.

During last year’s budget deliberations, Vanden Hoek said “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.”

It is not clear whether the county will approve funds for transit in 2008, but they are certainly talking about it once again. And Jim Vanden Hoek, now taking his turn as county warden, has the unenviable role of overseeing that conversation.

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.