Island municipalities reel from Ontario clawback

MANITOULIN—Despite a letter from the Ministry of Finance to Ontario municipalities stating that the province will provide $550 million in unconditional funding from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) to over 388 municipalities across the province in 2014, Island municipalities recently learned that they will be receiving significantly less in OMPF funding for the year ahead.

“We knew this year was a restructuring year, so if anything we were expecting an increase for 2014,” commented Bonnie J. Bailey, clerk-treasurer of the Township of Burpee Mills. “In 2013 we received $259,200, while in 2014 we will receive $254,600.”

According to Assiginack Township clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs, Assiginack’s funding is also down, but only by $2,000.

Billings Township’s funding is down significantly more than last year from $506,000 to $486,800.

“That is $19,200 less than 2013,” explained Billings clerk-treasurer Kathy McDonald. “Staff is just preparing the 2014 budget so it is going to effect things, but it is yet to be determined what that effect will be.”

Central Manitoulin CAO/clerk Ruth Frawley told The Expositor that the municipality would be receiving almost $28,000 less in 2014.

“Next to taxation, OMPF is our biggest funder,” said Ms. Frawley. “Last year we received $1,201,700 while in 2014 we are estimated to receive $1,173,900.”

Gore Bay treasurer Pam Bond reported that her municipality would be getting significantly less in OMPF funding for 2014 as well, having received $388,900 last year and only an estimated $359,100 for 2014, while Carrie Lewis, CAO/clerk-treasurer for Gordon/Barrie Island, said they were in the same boat with their funding down $23,000.

Finally, the Northeast Town saw the biggest drop in OMPF funding resulting in $81,000 less, prompting the Northeast Town council to make significant cuts to its 2014 budget.

Though the province has said that the overall provincial funding is better than past years due to uploads, to municipalities, at least on the Island, these benefits are yet to be seen.

Robin Burridge