MANITOULIN – Manitoulin Island municipalities are pleased that the province of Ontario is continuing to provide Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) funding for 2020-2021. Some are seeing an increase in the amount of funding they are to receive.
“We were pleased and surprised that we received a bit of an increase,” said Ian Anderson, mayor of the Township of Billings, last week. “We were very happy to receive this funding news.”
Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne noted the town is to receive a slight increase in OMPF funding for 2021, compared to 2020. “They let us know early of the funding, which is good; last year at this time the (confirmation of) funding was all up in the air and it was hard to budget for this. At least we know early this year.”
Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee and Mills and chair of the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA), said that OMPF funding provided to municipalities is critical to them (to keep up with increasing costs). “Our (Burpee and Mills Township) amount has increased by about $14,000. But unfortunately, it still doesn’t cover the loss in revenue to the municipality from Nature Conservancy of Canada lands owned in our township having tax exempt status; or the loss in revenue from the managed forest and farm tax program. But every little bit helps.”
Danny Whalen, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), noted the total fund of $500 million is dispersed to 389 municipalities in Ontario based on their local circumstances, using the same formula as 2020. Each local government in Northern Ontario received a share of the OMPF, totalling $206,624,500; this amount is an increase of $700,220 from the previous year.
“We wish to thank the province for continuing to support municipalities in the Northeast with an increase to the OMPF allocation,” said Mr. Whalen. “Also, having this information before most budget processes starting is a benefit to members.”
The OMPF allocation is unencumbered funding that municipal governments use to offset tax increases to their residents.
The Ontario government is providing municipalities with $500 million through OMPF. The province is maintaining the overall structure of the funding, keeping a commitment made at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) annual conference in August. Municipalities are being informed of their specific 2021 funding allocations as of October 29, which will provide much needed stability and support, a release notes.
OMPF is the province’s main general assistance grant, used to support the local priorities and specific needs of 389 municipalities, with a special emphasis on Northern and rural communities.
“Our government recognizes the importance of certainty and stability for municipalities, particularly in these challenging times,” said Rod Phillips, minister of Finance. “That’s why we are announcing the allocations for the 2021 OMPF today—consistent with our commitment last year to provide our partners with the information they need, when they need it to plan their budgets. Our government will continue to work together with municipal governments to build a strong foundation for Ontario’s long-term economic recovery, and improve the quality of life for the people across the province.”
Broken down by local municipality, and how much each will receive this year, the per-household rate this would present and what they received in OMPF funding last year is as follows: Township of Assiginack, $696,700 in 2021 ($803 per household) with the 2020 allocation having been $687,100; Township of Billings, $523,400 ($703 per household), 2020 allocation of $505,300; Burpee and Mills, $308,800 ($877 per household) and $294,900 in 2020; Central Manitoulin, $1,422,900 ($796 per household) and $1,379,500 in 2020; Cockburn Island, $118,300, the same as in 2020 (with a per household rate of $1,245); Municipality of Gordon-Barrie Island, $628,700 in 2021 ($887 per household) and $627,600 in 2020; Town of Gore Bay, $465,800 ($1,047 per household) and $464,300 in 2020; Killarney, $443,800 ($474 per household) and $455,600 in 2020; Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, $1,633,400 ($739 per household) and $1,591,500 in 2020; Township of Tehkummah, $372,300 ($952 per household) and $369,900 in 2020.
The 2021 OMPF is also providing a $5 enhancement to further support Northern and rural municipalities. This includes a $3 million increase to the Northern and Rural Fiscal Circumstances Grant to provide additional support to those dealing with fiscal challenges and a $2 million increase to the Rural Communities Grant to further support rural municipalities with the highest levels of farmland.
OMPF recognizes the unique challenges of Northern and rural municipalities, while targeting funding to those facing difficult fiscal circumstances. The program also supports areas with limited property assessment and assists municipalities that are adjusting to year-over-year funding changes.