Budget article update - Wednesday 6:00 pm
(At their meeting today, Frontenac County Council considered proposals which would have brought their 2018 budget levy down by up to $150,000, but in the end only managed to make the most superficial of cuts to the document.
But pity the poor foster kids!
A 6,000 expenditure to support a scholarship program for foster children in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, was cut from the budget. The impact of the cut was to lower the budget levy by 0.06%. The only other change to the budget that was made by council was to remove another $6,400 from taxation by cutting almost half of the budget for a parking lot restoration project at the county offiuce/Fairmount Home complex.
All in the levy to ratepayers has been reduced from $9.775 million to $9.763 million, a decrease of a little over a tenth of one per cent. The net increase in the levy to ratepayers has been set a 4.4%.
The other potential changes that would have had a greater impact did not have enough support from Council to come to fruition.
A motion to cut the $55,061 contribution to the University Hospital Foundation of Kingston, which was made by North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, did not receive a seconder.
The only major dispute of the morning came when Warden Ron Vandewal proposed that the ambulance that is stationed on Wolfe Island could be replaced with a cheaper option using a single paramedic and a first response vehicle. The transport ambulance would come from Kingston off the soon to be upgraded ferry service. This would save about $100,000 per year, and a portion of those savings would go to Frontenac County ratepayers.
Chief of Paramedic Services Paiul Charbonneau said that the alternative service would be a good fit for Wolfe Islands and would serve the residents as well as the traditional ambulance that has been phased in.
That did not sit well with Frontenac Islands Mayor Dennis Doyle however.
“Just like we voted to support the K&P Trail and Economic Development, I would ask that the county support the residents of Wolfe Island by completing the phase-in of ambulance service that this council started in 2015.”
Council stood with Doyle.
The draft 2018 budget thus remained intact, with the only losers from today’s process being part of a parking lot and a foster child who will not get a scholarship.
Overall spending for Frontenac County, which stood at $41.3 milliom in the draft budget, remains at $41.3 million. The $26,000 decrease in total expenditures (0.06%) falls within the rounding error.
The following was published before the meeting on Wednesday morning, and is based on the content of the draft budget, which as explained above, has remained fundamentally intact in its final incarnation
Perhaps Kelly Pender sky dives on the weekends, but in his working life the Frontenac County Chief Administrative Officer is averse to risk and drama. As far as the annual Frontenac County budget is concerned, he has been preaching from the gospel of predictable, controlled budget increases over time.
This has taken a lot of the drama out of the annual Frontenac County budget process, which was never a riveting spectacle to witness even before Pender took the helm.
This year Frontenac County Council has moved away from the very general; approving the parameters of the budget in conceptual terms in September, to the very specific; looking at individual projects as add-ons to the budget in late October.
This week they received, for the first and likely the last time, a draft budget document. It contains few surprises.
The number that matters in 2018 will be $9,775,000, that’s how much will be levied to the four Frontenac Townships if Council accepts the budget as presented Wednesday morning (This article will be updated on Frontenacnews.ca at that time) The townships will then collect that money from Frontenac County properties.
This projected levy is over $400,000 higher than it was in 2017, an increase of 4.5%.
Most of that increase came about as the result of previous decisions by this Council.
They indicated at their meeting in September that they would like to see an operating budget, including service enhancements, come in at under 1.5%, the figure for the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) for the year as calculated in late August.
Treasurer Susan Brandt, working her first budget as the lead official (she was the Deputy Treasurer until replacing the retired Marion Vanbruinessen earlier this year) followed last year’s practice and added 0.6% to that target, based on figures for the projected increase in property assessment that was provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
By keeping the operating budget increase to 1.1% ($104,117), adding 0.89% ($83,550) for new projects, and using $88,000 from reserve funds, the result was a 2% increase. This increase includes a new overnight Personal Support Worker shift at Fairmount Home and a new Human Resources position, as well as $35,000 for the Economic Development Department.
Added to the 2% increase from this year’s process are increases resulting from commitments made earlier in the mandate of this council. The largest of those is 1.78% ($166,7782) for two service enhancements of the Frontenac Paramedic Services, which are being phased in. One is on Wolfe Island, which is now fully funded, and the other is the second of three increases for a new overnight ambulance in Kingston. Another 0.65% ($60,787) is devoted to increase the reserve fund for capital projects, which has been in place for three years now and will continue to effect future budgets.
All together, the increase rounds off to just about 4.5%
Because of the incremental process and the weight of prior commitments, there is little to be decided when the entire package is presented this week. All of the spending increases have been approved in principle at previous meetings, but Council is not bound by those prior decisions.
Based on the discussions that took place earlier, the only item that is at all likely to re-surface is the commitment to provide $55,000 each year for ten year to the University Hospital Foundation of Kingston. That was approved in a vote of 6-3 and may come up for a final vote before the budget is signed, sealed and delivered.
Whether approved with or without amendments, the enacting bylaw for the budget will not be before Council until their meeting on December 20th.
(Frontenac County’s overall spending budget for 2018 will be $41.3 million, up 3% ($1.2 million) from 2017. Most of the money required to deliver Frontenac County Services is provided by the Province of Ontario and the City of Kingston, which provide the lion’s share of funding for the two largest County operations (Fairmount Home and Frontenac Paramedic Services)
In 2008 a consultant's report called for an ambulance base to be built at the junction of Roads 509 and Ardoch Road in Central Frontenac to serve residents in North and Central Frontenac and motorists on Highway 7 between Kaladar and Brooke Valley.
A lot happened after that, including a plan to build a base and a fire hall in Ompah, but after six years a base was opened in July of 2014 at the corner of Road 509 and Robertsville Road, a few kilometres from where the consultant's report had recommended, but in North Frontenac.
Since then, the base has been a success, serving residents in North and Central Frontenac as well as Lanark Highlands and Tay Valley townships, and motorists on Highway 7. It was originally going to be a satellite base, meaning crews would start and end their 12-hour shift at the Parham base and would then drive north, but from the day it opened it has been a full base, offering 12 hours of service.
Now, two years and two months after it opened, it has received a LEED Silver designation for its design and building materials. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a rating system that awards points for everything from the materials used, the use of passive solar heating, and intangibles such as the placement of bicycle racks in parking lots.
At a ceremony marking the LEED certification last week, the contractor who built the base was on hand, as was County Warden Frances Smith, North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, Frontenac County Chief of Paramedic Services Paul Charbonneau, and the paramedics who were on duty at the time.
“Both of the bases Frontenac County has built since taking on responsibility for paramedic services have been LEED certified,” said Charbonneau. “The Sydenham base is gold certified and this one obtained the silver. The effort to achieve this standard is consistent with the county's commitment to sustainability.”
Warden Smith, nearby in Central Frontenac, not far from the base's location, said, “It's wonderful to have such a good facility available to us here in the northern part of the county.”
LEED is a rating system that is a recognized mark of excellence for green building in 150 countries.