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New Year may bring infrastructure funding

By Francis Baker
Staff

There may be provincial and federal money for infrastructure projects coming in the new year, according to Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj.

At last week’s township council meeting she announced funding might be available around Jan. 9 next year.

“Once again, we’re very pressed for time,” she said.

During the post-recession stimulus spending, project application deadlines were so fast many projects couldn’t be presented through the normal committee-council procedure, and had to be approved at the last minute by council.

Ross-Zuj said the township has good planning practices in place to deal with any quick deadlines for grant applications.

Centre Wellington also hopes to take advantage of any federal infrastructure funding – members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities were lobbying the federal government early last week about the municipal infrastructure deficit.

Municipalities – and other levels of government – would have to spend billions to repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure that’s now in poor condition.

Ross-Zuj said municipalities are looking forward to a federal government response to the FCM lobbying.

Meanwhile, township councillors will have to deal with another 10 percent reduction in provincial partnership funding when they begin discussing the budget later this year.

The province has been reducing Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund payments to municipalities – including Centre Wellington – since 2009; the funding was originally set up to help municipalities deal with amalgamations.

“We’ll lose another $100,000 off our total,” Ross-Zuj said. But knowing that now means township staff can start planning on how to deal with the cut in the budget.

In years past, the province suggested the entire payment – at one time close to $1 million – would disappear entirely, and then would reinstate part of it. The uncertainty surrounding the amount of the funding made it difficult to budget, as the money has a direct impact on how much the township has to raise through taxes – or find in cuts to expenses.

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