Looming grant cuts could harm 172 municipalities

ELORA, ON, Dec. 7 /CNW/ - County Wardens and Mayors from the 15-member Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus met recently with Provincial Cabinet Ministers in Toronto to stress the vital importance of the Province continuing to provide necessary grant support to municipalities so that their financial and economic health will not be further jeopardized.

The meeting was prompted by the Provincial proposal to discontinue a grant given to eligible municipalities under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF).

The potential elimination of the special assistance funding component of the OMPF would adversely affect 172 municipalities across the Province who would suffer an overall loss of more than $70 million in grant funding.

The OMPF funding is at risk due to a Provincial review of all of its expenditures as it moves ahead to address its budget deficit.

For many years, municipalities have relied on consistent Provincial grant funding which has been used to support the cost of providing important local services.

The Western Wardens' Caucus believes that the Provincial-municipal partnership that has been forged with the McGuinty Government has been positive and creative so far.

The OMPF grant is viewed by the Wardens' Caucus as a strong reflection of the partnership which the Province has with municipalities who bear the cost of implementing many Provincially-legislated programs and regulations.

As well, the Wardens' Caucus members are firmly convinced that municipalities and the Province have come too far together to allow a sum of approximately $70 million to sour the partnership.

In 2008, the Province announced that it would be gradually taking back the cost of specific social programs from municipalities without requiring municipalities to take on any new responsibilities in the process. Municipalities who were receiving special assistance grants under the OMPF took that announcement to mean that they would not lose their funding.

If the Province chooses to ignore its partnership with municipalities over the OMPF issue, many municipalities will have to consider various options including tax hikes, job cuts, and service reductions in order to meet their financial shortfall.

The Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus has encouraged the Ontario Government to continue its dialogue with its municipal partners to find a mutually agreeable solution so that 172 municipalities will not be significantly disadvantaged.

SEE ATTACHED LIST OF MEMBERS OF THE WESTERN ONTARIO WARDENS' CAUCUS

The Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus membership comprises Wardens and/or Mayors of the following Counties and Single-tier municipalities:

    
    -  County of Brant

    -  County of Bruce

    -  County of Dufferin

    -  County of Elgin

    -  County of Essex

    -  County of Grey

    -  Haldiman County

    -  County of Huron

    -  County of Lambton

    -  County of Middlesex

    -  Norfolk County

    -  County of Oxford

    -  County of Perth

    -  County of Simcoe

    -  County of Wellington

    -  Municipality of Chatham-Kent
    

SOURCE WESTERN ONTARIO WARDENS' CAUCUS

For further information: For further information: ISSUE CONTACT, Joanne Ross-Zuj, Warden of the County of Wellington, Phone: (519) 837-2600 ext. 2550, Email: joanner@wellington.ca And Mayor of the Township of Centre Wellington, Phone: (519) 846-9691 ext. 294, Email: jrosszuj@centrewellington.ca

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WESTERN ONTARIO WARDENS' CAUCUS

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