| Feb 05, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - February 5, 2009 Frontenac County CouncilBy Jeff Green

County levy increase stands at 4% as budget nears completion.

At the first of two scheduled budget meetings, members of Frontenac County Council worked their way through a portion of the 2009 County budget, which would entail a 4% increase in the County portion of municipal taxes if passed in its current form.

Of that increase, roughly half is due to increased operating costs at the County. The rest comes from a projected decrease in interest earnings from County investments due to a collapse in the global investment climate.

Council deferred debate on the matter of non-union salaries, which at this point are slated to rise by 3% in 2009.

In a report prepared by County staff, the non-unionised pay rates in nearby Counties were listed. Four of them have approved their budgets for 2009, and three of them have approved 3% raises, and the fourth has approved a 2% raise.

County Councillors also deferred discussion of their own salaries until the non-unionised pay rates are finalised.

The budget includes the purchase of a Simulator for the Frontenac Land Ambulance Service. The new piece of equipment will allow paramedics to prepare for the kinds of emergencies that come about rarely in the normal operation of their duties, but require specialised skills. The cost to County ratepayers for the Simulator ($40,000) will be covered by a reserve fund and will not affect the 2009 budget.

The Fairmount Home budget, includes a hefty increase in cost, 13% or $95,000 to County taxpayers.

Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek asked Fairmount Home Administrator Julie Shilllington whether any of the recommendations from a recent study of the long term care facility had been implemented and were reflected in the budget.

Shillington said she would have something for County Council on that in March, but this will only be reflected in future years' budgets.

Final budget meeting will take place on February 11.

Pine Meadow left out again

It was a shortened version of a debate they held last year, with the same result.

On January 28th the four Frontenac County Mayors considered a request from North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire to support a renovation project at the Pine Meadow Nursing Home in Northbrook.

The request was for $250,000 over ten years towards the project, which is the same amount that the County of Lennox and Addington (L&A) committed in 2008. Although Pine Meadow is located in L&A, a report last year showed that 60% of its clientele come from Frontenac County.

“This is a very sensitive issue in the north half of Frontenac County,” Maguire said. It is hurtful that residents from NF are throwing a lot of taxpayers money at Fairmont Home, which serves the south part of Frontenac well, and the city of Kingston and others. It seems to me it is only fair, symbolic and fair, that the people who live in the north half of the county are taken seriously and supported by the county, I would like to show that symbolic commitment by including $25,000 per year for 10 years. It is the cost of a photocopier.”

Frontenac Island Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek said he “thinks it is fair to have a discussion in the Frontenacs about support for assisted living but in a broader context than just looking at supporting another long term care facility.”

Warden Janet Gutowski, who supported Ron Maguire's request last year, said “my thinking is along the lines of Mayor Vanden Hoek. “$250,000 is a substantial amount of money.”

Fairmont Home, which is owned by Frontenac County, receives municipal support from the County and the City of Kingston.

The draft 2009 Frontenac County budget includes a contribution of $820,000 in property tax dollars to the Fairmount Home.

A study of the operations of Fairmont Home, completed late last year, praised the level of care at the facility but questioned the high cost of running it.

By provincial regulation, Ontario municipalities are required to own or support at least one municipally run long term care facility. Municipal homes are funded through standardised provincial grants, patient fees, and municipal dollars.

Pine Meadow Home is a non-municipal home. It is owned and operated by Land O'Lakes Community Services, a not-for profit charitable corporation, and is funded entirely through standardised provincial grants and patient fees.

Neither facility is located within the boundaries of Frontenac County.

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