Provincial funding major topic
SUMMERSIDE – The provincial funding formula to municipalities was one of the topics addressed by Island New Democratic Party Leader Mike Redmond during a meting, Friday, with Summerside city council.
© MIke Carson/Journal Pioneer
Island New Democratic Party Leader Mike Redmond held a 90-minute session with Summerside city council discussing issues that concern the area. Among those in attendance were Councillors Tina Mundy and Peter Holman and Mayor Basil Stewart.
“I think the most important thing for a visit to a local community like Summerside is to gave the opportunity to meet with the mayor and with council, to meet with local community groups and to hear concerns and areas of focus that we need to be paying attention to,” he said.
The issue of revenue sharing has been an issue in Summerside since the province replaced a tax credit system with a grant system reducing the flow of provincial dollars to the municipality.
“As a community obviously, the revenue sharing agreement from the province is a major concern,” Redmond said. “They want to move from a grant back to a tax credit system and we also had a good conversation today on the Provincial Nominee Program and how immigration could be a really successful tool in helping develop and grow the community in Summerside. There are certainly some obvious indicators that we can improve on ands certainly pay attention to.”
Redmond said the current provincial revenue sharing formula is not working.
“Summerside is not unlike most municipalities, if not all municipalities on Prince Edward Island, they have lost dramatically and are underfunded,” he said. “We made it very, very clear that we would diminish the size of the capacity of MLAs from 27 down to a manageable number. Those savings would be passed on to municipalities so they could do the work they need to have done. We need to address the issue of the tax credit versus grant program and get it back to the level that municipalities can run services within their communities.”
Redmond said his visit to the western end of the Island was a chance to talk to people about their concerns.
“It was my opportunity to listen,” he said. “It was my opportunity to congratulate Summerside on their health and wellness strategies they have in this community and on Credit Union Place and the events that they are hosting and how they are paying attention to the community.
“And it’s generally, talks about economics and we can develop an economic stimulus in Summerside and the western end of P.E.I. that will be sustainable,” the party leader said. “Not over four years or five years but in the long term so we can ensure that we leave the world in a better place than when we inherited it. That’s the ideals the NDP are bringing to Summerside and the western end of P.E.I.”
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said council had a “good, general discussion on things that pertain to Summerside” with Redmond.
Stewart said the city is still working with the province to make changes to the provincial funding formula.
“Through our president of the P.E.I. Federation of Municipalities, Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall, there have been a number of meetings with the province,” he said. “We’re trying to get back to the tax credit system from the grant system. I understand there will be some meetings this month. It is a concern. We’ve been getting some vibes that it will eventually go back to tax credit system.”
Stewart hopes that this issue will be settled before the city brings down its 2014 budget in late March.