By Dan Rankin
When the Rural Ontario Municipal Association and Ontario Good Roads Association hold their joint conference (ROMA/OGRA) in Toronto on Feb. 21, a delegation featuring representatives from Perth County and its four lower-tier municipalities will be on hand, Treasurer Rebecca Clothier told Perth South Council this week.
Clothier was heavily involved, working alongside such individuals as Perth County treasurer Renato Pullia, in preparing the delegation request. In their presentation, they hope to express to the provincial Ministry of Finance frustration over the harsh Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) cuts being experienced disproportionately by rural municipalities in southwestern Ontario, and recommend changes to the funding model.
On Sunday, Feb. 21 the joint Perth County delegation will receive a 15-minute session with the Minister of Finance’s parliamentary secretary. As the session will include introductions and a question period after their presentation, Clothier said this week she and the CAOs and treasurers from around Perth County would be preparing a focused and to-the-point seven-minute presentation on their three areas of concern.
“We are working together on this request because we have a common interest in the OMPF issue and we feel that it is important to present this message as a unified group,” Clothier wrote in her report to Council.
The three issues the group hopes to address include “slowing of the phase out of the OMPF transitional grant from 2017 onwards,” which would assist the municipalities’ transition and planning; working with the province to come up with an alternative way to distribute funds to rural municipalities than “allocation by total households”; and additional money being added to the OMPF farm area measure “to assist rural municipalities with costs related to their low population densities.”
They also seek to let the province know that they “would also benefit from a disclosure of a multi-year plan for future reductions” in order to complete their own multi-year budgeting processes.
“We’re very pleased we were given [this] opportunity,” Clothier told Council, adding that she thought their decision to make a request jointly with the County was “key” to getting approved. “I don’t think all of the municipalities who asked for a delegation on that topic were approved.”
She noted that other municipalities concerned with OMPF funding have deferred their delegation requests until the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference taking place in Windsor in August to give themselves more time to do analysis, while others have looked into hiring professional analysts to aid in their presentations.