United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council approved revisions to the 2021 budget when it met on June 23.

At the June 9 Committee of the Whole meeting, UCPR Treasurer Valérie Parisien said there are approximately $15 million in revisions, but there are no changes to the actual amount of the budget. Increases in spending in some departments are counterbalanced by increases in revenue or decreases in spending in other departments.

The total UCPR budget for 2021 is $24,266,900.

The UCPR’s tax requisition from its eight municipalities has increased by $1,182,200 to $48,699,000. The Finance Department is transferring $1,465,000 in provincial COVID-19 recovery funding to reserves.

“We have included the actual, known expenses,” said Treasurer Parisien, when explaining the expenses related to COVID-19, including provincial grants.

“The situation is very dynamic, it is very versatile,” she added.

In Public Works, the engineering budget has increased from $5,000 to $100,000 to fund traffic studies in Limoges and Casselman. The $718,000 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund grant has also been added to the budget. There was also an unexpected $133,000 increase in federal funding and $1,130,000 in cancelled work for 2021.

Road, bridge, and culvert capital expenses have increased by $408,500 but have been offset by transferring a job that was originally a capital expense to the operating budget.

At the Prescott and Russell Residence, there were several adjustments due to COVID-19-related expenses. There are $415,400 in savings due to difficulties in recruiting staff, filling vacancies during absences, and temporary vacancies.

There were numerous savings in childcare and Early On program expenses, but these were offset by the costs of adapting programs due to the pandemic.

UCPR paramedics have been working in a more community-based capacity during the pandemic, providing COVID-19 tests and vaccinations at the homes of some residents who are unable to travel to clinics.

On June 9, Warden Stéphane Sarrazin asked about the future funding of community paramedic services.

“We did not receive a provincial grant, are we going to continue to offer the service with other financial resources?”

“Right now, all community paramedics are funded not by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, but by Ontario Health,” responded Director of Emergency Services, Marc-André Périard, adding he is hoping for a three-year grant to provide funding stability.

When UCPR council approved the 2021 budget revisions on June 23, no further changes had been made since the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 9.