Norfolk County Mayor reviews federal, provincial budgets



    NORFOLK COUNTY, ON, March 23 /CNW/ - Norfolk County Mayor Dennis Travale
has reviewed the federal and provincial budgets, consulted with senior staff
and key advisors, and provides the following comments.

    
    Federal Budget Review
    ---------------------

    -   Pleased to see the investments made in broad infrastructure renewal
        by transferring money to the provinces.

    -   Disappointment that there was no increase in taxation on tobacco
        products. This would have been a clear signal that the Federal
        government was concerned about the plight of the tobacco growing
        community and were willing to start the process of negotiating an
        exit strategy.

    -   Disheartened that the government did not provide support for an Agri-
        Food Innovation Centre in Norfolk to assist tobacco (and other)
        farmers in their necessary transition to other viable crops.

    Provincial Budget Review
    ------------------------

    -   Pleased to see the extra money allocated to infrastructure. We
        eagerly await a positive response to our earlier application under
        the Rural Infrastructure Investment Initiative. I would be
        disheartened however, if we are forced into a process of applying for
        funds that is similar to the COMRIF program where we are entered into
        a bidding war against every other municipality in Ontario.

    -   Pleased to see a 2% increase in payments to citizens with
        disabilities: however, without consultation, the Province has
        unilaterally increased our payments to this program. ODSP is managed
        and delivered by the province, but the municipality is forced to pay
        for the program. The provincial managers of this program in Norfolk
        overspend their budget of $3.2 million by $500,000 last year. That is
        money out of our pockets and added an additional 1% to the levy
        without any say or approval by our local Council.

    -   Disappointed that there was no tax increase on tobacco products. Such
        a tax would have sent a clear signal that the Provincial government
        was willing to negotiate a tobacco exit strategy. To add insult to
        injury, the Province did not communicate with us any desire to
        consider our request for an Agri-Food Innovation Centre to assist
        tobacco (and other) farmers in a transition to other viable crops.

    -   Extremely disappointed that some Ontario ridings have received
        funding for "soft" items like libraries, while critical
        infrastructure essentials like sewage capacity in Norfolk are
        ignored.

    -   Disappointed about the lack of action on correcting the shortfall in
        the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which is meant to
        assist rural municipalities with their social program costs, policing
        costs and other equalization measures.
    

    What Norfolk needs...
    ---------------------

    "I am asking both of our elected representatives to step up and be more
supportive, in the strongest possible manner, of our critical needs in
Norfolk," said Mayor Travale. "Our economy is being devastated in all possible
ways and we see no semblance of support for our situation."
    "I am asking both of our elected representatives to move an amendment to
the budgets, seeking a 2% increase in taxes on tobacco products so
negotiations on an exit strategy can commence," he added.
    "I am asking both of our elected representatives to meet with me and
Council, and tell us how they intend to assist us with our severe
infrastructure and economic challenges," Mayor Travale concluded.
    Details of the federal government's budget are available on the web at
www.gc.ca.
    Details of the provincial government's budget are available at
www.ontario.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Dennis Travale, Mayor, Norfolk County, Phone:
(519) 426-5870, ext. 1220, www.norfolktourism.ca

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