Gas tax fund­ing a ‘god­send’ - Vre­bosch

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER HAMIl­TON-Mc­cHA­RlEs

nipiss­ing-timiskam­ing will re­ceive $5.3 mil­lion in gas tax fund­ing to fi­nance mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture projects such as roads, sports and recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties and tourism in­fra­struc­ture.

this year, 19 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, town­ships and lo­cal ser­vice boards in nipiss­ing-timiskam­ing will each re­ceive a por­tion of the $5.3 mil­lion.

north Bay will re­ceive the largest share, at $3.26 mil­lion, fol­lowed by temiskam­ing shores ($632,386) and east Fer­ris ($289,803).

thorne, on the other hand, will re­ceive $1,066.

the fed­eral gas tax Fund pro­vides “pre­dictable, long-term fund­ing to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to help them build and re­ha­bil­i­tate their in­fra­struc­ture,” the fed­eral gov­ern­ment states.

to date, $15 bil­lion has been in­vested in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties through the fund, with close to $22 bil­lion to flow over the next 10 years.

how the money will be spent is de­ter­mined at the lo­cal level and pri­or­i­tized ac­cord­ing to the in­fra­struc­ture needs of each com­mu­nity.

“this is a god­send to any mu­nic­i­pal­ity that gets noth­ing,” said east Fer­ris Mayor Bill Vre­bosch.

“It’s the best thing that ever hap­pened to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties be­cause it’s guar­an­teed in­come ev­ery year. For some com­mu­ni­ties that is all they have to spend on their roads, be­cause they re­ceive noth­ing from the prov­ince,” he said tues­day.

“We haven’t re­ceived a provin­cial in­fra­struc­ture grant since 2008. We keep ap­ply­ing, but they keep say­ing to raise taxes. they’re forc­ing small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties into debt.”

Vre­bosch said he ex­pects this cash in­fu­sion will be spent on roads.

he said what is great about the fed­eral fund­ing is that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can save it over a pe­riod of time to fund a larger project.

“If you don’t use it this year, you can stack it and use it later. Com­mu­ni­ties also can work with neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on a larger in­fra­struc­ture project that they oth­er­wise couldn’t do alone.”

he said it would be nice if the prov­ince would fol­low ot­tawa’s lead.

“I have been fight­ing with the prov­ince for decades on this sub­ject. When I go to a gas sta­tion in Cor­beil or as­torville I pay 15 cents in provin­cial gas tax,” Vre­bosch said.

“how­ever, un­less a com­mu­nity has a tran­sit sys­tem they don’t get any provin­cial gas tax fund­ing. My ar­gu­ment is that my roads, cul­verts and bridges are my tran­sit sys­tem and they are equally im­por­tant,” he said.

“small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can’t sur­vive on res­i­den­tial taxes alone. We need a guar­an­teed source of in­come from some­where.”

north Bay Mayor al Mcdon­ald said this year the city re­ceived $3.26 mil­lion, about $50,000 more than last year.

“We will use all of this money to­ward our as­phalt resur­fac­ing pro­gram, which we do each year,” he said.

“We have resur­faced 25 per cent of our roads in the past five years. We have 360 kilo­me­tres of roads and we could use twice this amount, but we are fur­ther ahead on road resur­fac­ing than many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

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