Frontenac County votes to bring back RULAC

Frontenac County council voted to revive the doormant Rural-Urban Liaison Advisory Committee as a forum to discuss issues shared with the City of Kingston, including paramedic services, on Wednesday. (Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard) Elliot Ferguson / Elliot Ferguson/Whig-Standard

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GLENBURNIE – With an uncertain future ahead for Frontenac Paramedics and the Fairmont Home long-term care facility, Frontenac County voted Wednesday morning to dust off the long-dormant Rural-Urban Liaison Advisory Committee (RULAC).

The committee, founded at the time of amalgamation 21 years ago, was designed to provide a forum to discuss issues of shared interest between the city and the county, including Fairmount Home, provincial offences, social housing, land ambulance and social programs.

Early last year, the committee was mothballed because it had only met once in the previous two years. Since 2009, the committee had sent no motions to city council.

But a disagreement this year about the billing for paramedic services and long-term care costs has county Warden Ron Higgins interested in reactivating the committee.

“This basically came up because the City of Kingston had issues with the budget, how it was presented,” Higgins said.

Frontenac Paramedics’ 2019 budget included a 7.74 per cent increase in the city’s portion of the cost. Fairmont Home’s 2019 budget included a 5.21 per cent increase.

The invoices to the city from the paramedics and Fairmont included increases of 10.84 per cent and 8.37 per cent, respectively.

The increased amounts were the result of costs that were not counted in the original budget presentation to city council but were included in the bill the city received.

Among the costs that were not included in the budget presented to the city were more than $86,000 for additional personal support worker staff at Fairmont Home, more than $36,000 in costs for a paramedic mental wellness program, and $78,000 for a negotiated settlement.

The city has directed the county to revise its budget to reach the increases presented to city council.

RULAC originally included the county warden, deputy warden and the county councillor appointed to the city’s housing and homelessness advisory committee. The city was represented by the mayor and two city councillors.

In his report, Higgins also suggested that a revived RULAC could be used to plan ways to adapt to what many believe will be a decreasing amount of provincial funding for the land ambulance.