The Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, and our local M.P.P., Steve Clark, has issued a statement concerning more than $7.6 million which is being provided to small and rural municipalities to improve local service delivery and efficiency as part of a one-time investment, of which North will receive $632,832, and $371,843 will go to Merrickville-Wolford.
“Taxpayers need their local government to deliver modern, efficient services that show respect for their hard-earned dollars. This funding will help small and rural municipalities in my riding and across Ontario improve how they deliver services and reduce the ongoing costs of providing those services,” said Minister Clark. “I look forward to continuing to work together with our municipal partners to help people and businesses in communities across our province thrive.”
North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford, as well as the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, will receive funding to improve service delivery by, as the statement says: “finding smarter, more efficient ways to spend money that help those who need it most while respecting taxpayer dollars”.
This will support some of Ontario’s small and rural municipalities that may have limited capacity to plan, modernize and improve the way they provide services to their communities.
Steve’s statement noted that Ontario’s Government “was elected to restore transparency and accountability in Ontario’s finances. The province undertook a line-by-line review of its own expenditures and Steve said the government has been clear in expecting its partners, including municipalities, to become more efficient”.
He said examples could include service delivery reviews, development of shared services agreements, IT solutions, capital investments or other projects. The funding was not expected by the municipalities, and North Grenville’s CAO, Brian Carré, confirmed to the Times that “Council and staff have not had the opportunity to discuss that as of yet. I anticipate Council will direct staff on where to allocate the funding shortly. I can confirm that the funds were not expected and consequently not included as part of the 2019 budget deliberations”. After a long process of setting the 2019 Budget, Council and staff will welcome this windfall.
This is in line with Steve Clark’s approach, which was to allow the municipalities to decide on how best to use the funds. In his statement, the Minister set this out: “A key part of this announcement is that municipalities will decide how to best target funding to benefit their local communities. They know the needs of their local taxpayers and we’ve provided them with the flexibility to make those individualized decisions.”
Across Ontario, 405 small and rural municipalities will receive funding. To ensure investments are targeted to where they are needed most, funding will be allocated based on the number of households in a municipality and whether the municipality is urban or rural. Based on these calculations, the largest share of the funding goes to the United Counties ($725,000), while Brockville comes next ($685,367). Two other municipalities, Rideau Lakes and Leeds and the Thousand Islands, will receive the same amount as North Grenville. The other grants in this riding go to Gananoque ($650,720); Prescott ($591,400); Westport ($198,317); Augusta ($583,000); Front of Yonge ($350,895); Athens ($381,969); Edwardsburgh-Cardinal ($584,335); Elizabethtown-Kitley ($609,055).