By Stephanie Egelton
The tragic loss of Dan Rankin has saddened both Council and staff. Mayor Wilhelm began the January 10, 2017 meeting with comments regarding the positive experience the Township had with Dan and the loss that will be felt by all in the community.
Following these comments Members of Council and Staff of Perth South stood for a moment of silence in remembrance of Dan Rankin.
Later in the meeting a resolution was passed to donate $100 to the Dan Rankin Scholarship fund that has been established at D.C.V.I. in St. Marys.
Dollars and sense (cents) are always a heavily debated discussion in small and rural municipal governments; especially during the budget season. Perth South is currently feeling the effects of the decrease in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and noted the concerns at the January 10th council meeting.
“It is estimated that the 2017 decrease in OMPF funding will require a tax levy increase of approximately 7%,” explained Perth South Treasurer, Rebecca Clothier. She explained that this funding “is applied against the general levy rather than being applied to something specific (such as a capital project)”.
Last year, funding to the municipality was $1,339,400, which was $200,900 more than the 2017 allocation. Perth South’s 2017 allocation is $1,138,500, making up 41% of the municipal property tax revenue (for comparison, St. Marys’ is 9% of the municipal property tax revenue).
In her report, Treasurer Rebecca Clothier noted 4 possible reasons as to why Perth South’s funding decreased this year. A 15% reduction in transitional assistance from the province, decreasing property ownership in Perth South, and the higher (positive) position on the provincial government’s Northern and Rural Municipal Fiscal Circumstance Index.
Unfortunately, the funding discussion will continue to look bleak for small and rural municipalities. After changes to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding Program requirements in 2012, $96 Million was removed from the program, but $5 Million was added for Northern Ontario municipalities.
“This reduction is a continuation of the funding reductions, and will continue in the future,” concluded Clothier.
Mayor Robert Wilhelm expressed his disappointment to the Independent on how much funding had been decreased this fiscal year.
“I’m very disappointed that they (the province) are reducing funding, but then download services onto us, which we pay through the County,” said Wilhelm.
Wilhelm continued to say, “It’s very disappointing to see that the provincial government won’t listen to the smaller municipalities, and we’re one of the very few municipalities where the population is declining every year. ”
“We’re losing; no matter what way we turn.”