February 8, 2019 8:01 am

Frontenac County budget deliberations end with a 3.08 per cent tax increase

County Councillors concerned about provincial funding cuts

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For the last two days, members of the Frontenac County Council have been going over the budget line by line, looking for savings.

The 2019 draft budget came in with an increase of just over $350,000 — bringing the total budget up to $10,112,844.

A sizable part of that increase in the operating budget comes down to Frontenac County’s two biggest operations: the paramedic services and Fairmount Home Long Term Care facility.

READ MORE: Kingston city council approves tax increase in 2019 budget deliberations

That represents an increase of 3.64 per cent over 2018, says county warden Ron Higgins.

“If we added capital on that, the expectation is if we did nothing, it would be 4 per cent,” Higgins said. “So we’re going through all the projects to ensure that they’re county-related and supported by council.”

In a break in the deliberations, Higgins said council’s goal is to reduce the increase to 3.1 per cent.

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County councillor and Frontenac Islands Township mayor Denis Doyle says some of the tax increase burden will most likely be eased by using money from county reserves.

“Typically the capital comes from the reserves,” Doyle said, “so we’ve built up as part of the normal budget, put a lot of money away in reserves over the years.”

By the end of the day’s deliberations, council whittled the increase down to 3.08 per cent.

While council has finalized the budget, that may not be the end.

Warden Higgins says they may have to deal with provincial funding cuts they aren’t yet aware of.

READ MORE: Ottawa’s draft city budget has 3 per cent tax increase amid provincial belt-tightening

“We’re stuck not knowing what the province is going to be funding, so it’s kind of a crapshoot with this budget this year and we have to keep that in perspective, as well,” Higgins said.

That could require further adjustments as the year progresses, said Higgins.

“If the funding doesn’t come through, we’re going to have to take some kind of action throughout the year. ”

Frontenac County council will finalize the budget at the next County Council meeting on February 20.

 

 

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