SUMMERSIDE – P.E.I.’s Finance Minister says he hopes to have a revenue sharing arrangement struck with the municipalities within the next two months.
Wes Sheridan, who was speaking to a breakfast meeting of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, made the statement in response to a line of questioning by Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart.
The province and the Island’s various municipalities have argued for years over how best to share tax revenue.
The issue even stymied work on a new Municipalities Act for the province in 2012, which had been several years in the making.
But despite how divisive the issues has been and how far away the sides have seemed in the past, Sheridan seemed upbeat about the prospects of signing a deal soon.
“We’re making some good headway on that. I think probably within the next two months we’ll see a new agreement struck and it will be a very fair and equitable way of sharing that tax,” said Sheridan.
A deal with the Liberal government of Catherine Callbeck in 1995, called the Comprehensive Urban Services Agreement (CUSA), provided tax credits to municipalities based on development. Under the agreement, the arrangement could not be changed without being mutually agreed upon.
In 2008, the province opted to replace CUSA with a grant system to municipalities.
Many municipalities, like Summerside, have seen their funding shrink as a result.
Two of the most vocal Prince County mayors are calling for something to be done on the issue. Summerside’s Basil Stewart and Kensington’s Gordon Coffin, said they were cautiously optimistic of by the recent negotiations Sheridan was referring to.
“We’ve been working on this for the last couple of years now – we knew it was going to take some time. But we’ll just see how it unfolds,” said Stewart.
But there are still hurdles to overcome, added Coffin.
“Unfortunately, what’s on the table right now is not a long-term plan, which is what we’re hoping for,” he said.