After agreeing to put forward an offer to two physicians interested in establishing a practice in town at last month’s meeting, Greater Napanee council was tasked with finalizing a plan to fund that agreement at this week’s meeting.
In a vote of 5-2, council approved the staff’s proposal which included using funds from the bag tag reserve ($5,694), self-insurance reserve ($50,000), strategic plan reserve ($50,000) and $1,406 from the working capital reserve.
That plan would cover the approximate $110,000 needed to be paid up front for this year, split between the two physicians.
The remainder of the five year agreement, which amounts to $45,000 to be paid out per doctor in equal instalments of $11,250, would be raised through taxation in future budgets.
Councillor Terry Richardson opposed the idea of funding the agreement through taxation.
“If I heard anything more than we need doctors when I was knocking on doors, it was that our taxes are too high,” said Richardson. “My concern is trying to fund the subsequent money we’re going to need, just for doctors alone, is probably going to be a one per cent increase.”
Richardson said his concern was that would tie their hands for future endeavours.
“This is just my recollection, but at $11,000 per doctor, $22,000 per year, is less than half a per cent added to the taxes,” noted deputy mayor Max Kaiser. “It’s not quite as bleak. It’s still a number, and it is still there.”
Mayor Marg Isbester agreed taxation was the best way to remain competitive with other municipalities who are doing the same thing to attract doctors to their community.
“Until we find a different way of getting doctors to come here, it’s a huge part of our commitment to the population,” said Isbester. “Many people disagree with it, but I alone had 40 phone calls, or emails or texts just saying thank goodness (they are bringing in two new doctors) because I’m still without a doctor and have been for a couple of years. I can’t say I disagree, I don’t like the whole process at all, but it seems to be a fact of life, if we don’t do it, another municipality is going to do it whether we can afford it or not.”
Not done with their recruiting, council finalized its physician recruitment committee, appointing Richardson to represent council along with Town of Greater Napanee’s Charles McDonald to join Lennox and Addington County General Hospital board chair Allan MacGregor as well as LACGH Foundation vice-chair Adrienne Harris-Hale with foundation executive director Michelle Dickerson as an alternative as well as John M Parrott Centre director Angela Malcom to represent the County of Lennox and Addington.