It wasn’t all budget business when the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council met on January 9.

Under the Friendship Pact with the neighbouring Municipalité régionale du comté (MRC) de Papineau and MRC d’Argenteuil in Québec, there is an interest in strengthening the ties to include issues and interests the regional governments have in common.

UCPR and the MRC’s already cooperate on signing and promoting the Cyclo-route de l’Outaouais that follows roads on both sides of the provincial boundary.

Most of the Friendship Pact activity so far has been limited to ceremonial and social exchanges.

The desire for more formal cooperation comes with a price tag though.

The regional governments have proposed the creation of a Friendship Pact committee to oversee matters of joint concern and interest and have suggested a budget for $45,000 to cover its costs.

UCPR’s contribution to that amount would be $15,000.

La Nation Mayor François St-Amour and Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux said $15,000 is too much.

Hawkesbury mayor Paula Assaly asked how expenses related to the Friendship Pact were covered in the past.

CAO Stéphane Parisien said they were covered by local municipalities.

Parisien suggested moving ahead with appointing a representative to the committee and forgetting about the money part for now, and then “seeing where it can go from there.”

Alfred and Plantagenet Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin was appointed as the representative.

Sarrazin said it’s important to work together with the municipalities on the Québec side of the Ottawa River on common issues, and to avoid duplication on projects.

Child care fee increases, mileage rate increases

Parents who use the services of the Prescott and Russell Licensed Home Child Care Agency will be paying a bit more for the service.

Council has approved a one-dollar increase in the per diem providers receive.

Social services director Anne Comtois-Lalonde said the increase is necessary so that licensed home day care providers can maintain quality service.

UCPR employees who use their personal vehicles for county business will be getting a bit more for the fuel they use.

The policy is to match the rate set by the Canada Revenue Agency, which is now at 55 cents per kilometre, up from 52 cents.

The change is retroactive to June 1, 2018.

UCPR also owns a van that staff are encouraged to use when traveling for business, rather than using their personal vehicles.