SUMMERSIDE – Summerside Councillor Jeff Sullivan is calling on then province to deal with three issues that have gone unresolved for a number of years.
© MIke Carson/Journal Pioneer
Summerside City Councillor Jeff Sullivan is calling on the province to deal with the issues of transfer payments, a New Municipalities Act and returning city-based Maritime Electric customers to the Summerside Electric Utility in 2014.
“We are now in the new year and are approaching the city’s budget preparation season and the province of Prince Edward Island is approaching the end of their fiscal year,” Sullivan told council, Monday night. “Although the provincial government’s cabinet is very busy this time of year, it might be appropriate to bring up a few areas that we should ask the province to make more front-burner priorities as we go through 2014.”
Sullivan said it is time for the province to make the decisions that will best impact the growth and development of the municipality.
“The first of these is a new revenue sharing agreement,” he said. “We encourage the province, to the greatest extent, to provide municipalities with the means to charter our own course and insure that we have the financial resources to do this. Municipalities, after all, are closest to the people and provide services that are most approximate to their daily lives.”
The City of Summerside had a deal with the Liberal government of Catherine Callbeck in 1995, called the Comprehensive Urban Services Agreement (CUSA), which provided tax credits to municipalities based on development. Under the agreement the arrangement could not be changed without being mutually agreed upon.
However, in 2008, the province opted to replace CUSA with a grant system to municipalities.
Under the grant system the city has received less provincial funding. Between 2008 and 2013, the city received $1.3 million less under the grant program than it would have received under the tax credit system.
The next issue Sullivan raised was a new Municipalities Act to replace the existing City of Summerside Act.
“While we are fully prepared to continue operating under the existing City of Summerside Act, I think there’s a great opportunity for us, and it’s been described as a great opportunity, with the promise new legislation that would empower P.E.I.’s municipalities as never before,” he said.
Sullivan said another area that needs to be addressed is bringing all Summerside residents under the umbrella of the city’s electric utility.
“Since before the last municipal election in 2010, it’s been the official position of the City of Summerside that it would be desirable for all residents, within the city limits, to be serviced by the city’s own electric utility,” he said. “We further desire the province to facilitate the sale of or, the transfer of, all existing Maritime Electric customers to Summerside Electric. We are now three-and-a-half years past our letter where this was made an official policy position of the city. It’s bookmarked as being important to the city and its council.”
Sullivan said he would like to see the province make this a priority for 2014.