Town chipping away at budget deficit

FORT FRANCES—As town council and management continue to work through the 2007 budget process, some good news was announced Monday—the operating deficit has been reduced from $1.3 million to a more manageable $352,000.
“There’s a host things we got rid of,” Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig explained. “Equipment purchases, vehicle purchases, certain smaller jobs.
“But the big-ticket items—the underpass, Central Avenue reconstruction, and one large piece of equipment—are still in there and we have to address how we’ll fund those,” he added.
“We’re not even close to being done.”
McCaig noted the budget process is moving along but at this stage, there’s still no indication whether council will be contemplating tax increases for 2007.
In other budget-related news, council discussed a request made by the “Just Imagine” campaign that the town donate $25,000 to the CT Scanner drive this year, with a pledge to give another $25,000 each year for the next three.
However, no decision was made Monday on whether the town will agree to this specific request or take a different route.
For instance, the “Just Imagine” campaign made a presentation to delegates attending the Rainy River District Municipal Association’s annual meeting Saturday in Emo.
Coun. Tannis Drysdale suggested a “friendly competition,” whereby the town would match whatever donations were made by municipalities west of Fort Frances to Rainy River.
Coun. Sharon Tibbs said she thought the idea of a challenge was “great,” adding residents from across the district will use the CT Scanner.
Meanwhile, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft brought forward the idea to possibly direct that some of the $68,000 the town gives annually to La Verendrye Hospital be used towards a CT Scanner.
(Due to an agreement dating back to 1941, the town pays the hospital
a certain amount each year, which according to the agreement is to be used “for capital projects for the direct benefit of hospital facilities in Fort Frances.”)
McCaig noted there seems to be differing opinions about what this money is to be used for, and he would have to check in with Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. CEO Wayne Woods for clarification.
In recent years, Riverside agreed to used some of the town funds towards doctor recruitment.
Council decided to wait on any donation decision until McCaig has a meeting with the doctor recruitment committee and determine whether the $68,000 could be used towards the CT Scanner—or if the town should give money on top of that annual amount.