At their last meeting of 2019, South Frontenac Township Council saw the conclusion of the past months’ work by Council and Staff to create a new direction for the Township.
On Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, Council approved the Township’s new strategic plan, as well as its 2020 operating and capital budgets. According to a press release from South Frontenac CAO Neil Carbone, the two documents are “intended to position South Frontenac as a regional leader, and prepare the Township for significant growth and regional collaboration.”
“The focus of this new strategic plan is squarely on the future,” said South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal. “We’ve recognized that the Township has the potential for big things, but if we aren’t proactive, we may miss or lose control of those opportunities.”
The Township is anticipating significant residential growth in the coming decade, and with that comes both opportunities and challenges with respect to service levels, organizational capacity, community amenities, and environmental impacts, Carbone expressed.
“When we considered those pressures in the context of increased Provincial uncertainty, Council recognized the need to take control of its own destiny,” he said. “A common theme of the Strategic Plan and the 2020 budget is a desire to lead, to grow, and to look outside our borders for opportunities to collaborate.”
The overarching new vision for South Frontenac is: “Natural, vibrant, and growing – a progressive rural leader.”
“The importance of our communities, our environment and our residents’ quality of life remain central to this new strategy,” Vandewal said, “But change means we need to do things a bit differently in order to maintain and improve on those things the community values.”
According to the Township, the four key priorities moving forward are:
- Positioning South Frontenac as a Regional Leader;
- Supporting growth while maintaining the integrity of the environment;
- Ensuring the organizational capacity to deliver services in a changing world, and;
- Being a catalyst for the creation of vibrant and complete communities.
“While the Strategic Plan sets a direction for the Township, the budget is the means of putting those priorities into practice,” Carbone said. “This budget paints a clear picture of what we want to accomplish – It puts ‘our money where our mouth is,’ so to speak.”
Among those strategic actions being funded in the 2020 budget are:
- The development of a new Official Plan to help guide growth
- The creation of a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy
- Establishing communal servicing options to enable rural residential growth
- The implementation of new software solutions for development permitting
- The addition of Planning staff resources to accommodate development demands
The Township will also undertake a fire station location study in 2020 to identify the best way to optimize its fire stations and fleet in order to provide more efficient and effective local emergency response as the Township grows.
Perhaps most exciting to current residents of South Frontenac, the budget allows for increased road maintenance and new operational resources to support roads and recreation services. A recreation master plan, a number of recreation infrastructure projects, and downtown revitalization efforts are also funded through the budget, as well as a service delivery review looking to better align services with neighbouring municipalities.
“The Township has been on sound financial footing for some time, with no debt, growing assessment, healthy reserves, and relatively low taxes,” said Vandewal. “This is one of the reasons we’re able to fund these priorities while maintaining an average taxpayer impact of two per cent in this 2020 budget.”
According to the Township, the annual budgets are also based on its long-term financial plan, which is derived from its asset management plan.
“Several years ago we established programs for funding our capital renewal and new capital requirements over time. This has taken the guesswork out of capital budgeting and ensures we are prioritizing investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure based on objective criteria, and in a way that we can afford,” said Louise Fragnito, Director of Corporate Services and Treasurer for the Township. “Our approach means that we continue to reduce our funding gap – the difference between the cost of necessary capital renewal and the funding we have available for it.”
Implementation of the new Strategic Plan will begin in 2020 and will include additional detailed actions and performance indicators which will be established in the first quarter of 2020.
“I am excited to see our strategic plan also brought to life with data that we can share with constituents,” Vandewal expressed. “This information will help us make informed decisions about our strategies and budgets moving forward, and is just another way we are striving to be progressive rural leaders and a community that our residents can be proud of.”
According to the Township, further information about the 2020 budget will be circulated to ratepayers along with the notice of first installments sent out in March of next year. The complete 2020 budget and strategic plan can be found on the Township’s website at www.southfrontenac.net.