A wel­comed budget

MNL pres­i­dent pleased with Budget 2014

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY BRAN­DON AN­STEY TC COM­MU­NITY NEWS­PA­PERS TC File Photo

With the hand­ing down of Budget 2014, Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador (MNL) pres­i­dent Churence Rogers is quite sat­is­fied with the in­vest­ments in this year’s fi­nan­cial plan.

One of the big­gest up­sides for the or­ga­ni­za­tion is the $200 mil­lion to go into in­fra­struc­ture for com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince, he said.

“Over­all, it was pretty pleas­ant. We had some pre-budget an­nounce­ments for early ten­der­ing – $200 mil­lion in cap­i­tal works projects – and we knew that was go­ing to be on par with the last cou­ple of years. That’s the key piece for the budget that we’re most ex­cited about.”

He said it’s an an­nounce­ment mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have waited years for and will help to speed up the work process.

“Now, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are go­ing to find out by mid-April if they’ve been suc­cess­ful in their ap­pli­ca­tions for cap­i­tal works projects. If they are, they can get their ten­der­ing done and work started by early sum­mer, so they can get the work done this year that they’ve been ap­proved for. It’s a ma­jor move for­ward from our per­spec­tive.”

Ac­cord­ing to the MNL pres­i­dent, other as­pects of the budget were in line with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ex­pec­ta­tions, but there will be a big change to some of those as­pects in 2015.

“The other parts of the budget, from a mu­nic­i­pal side, are pretty much the stan­dard norm that was in­tro­duced last year. The mu­nic­i­pal op­er­at­ing grants are re­main­ing the same at $22 mil­lion. We knew that would stay the same be­cause that’s the com­mit­ment the govern­ment made to not change it un­til the 2015 budget. That’s the one where we’ll be look­ing for sig­nif­i­cant changes to the new fis­cal frame­work ar­range­ments.”

Mr. Rogers said Budget 2014 is in vast con­trast to the one handed down in 2013 and the ex­pec­ta­tions of MNL were met with this year’s fi­nan­cial plan­ning.

“Over­all, the budget is cer­tainly more pleas­ant than last year’s. From our mu­nic­i­pal side, we got what we ex­pected to see. We knew govern­ment has en­gaged with us to part­ner on a new fis­cal frame­work ar­range­ment in 2015. The work and re­search all has to be done be­fore fi­nal po­si­tion­ing in the fall. We’ll have a fi­nal doc­u­ment from our per­spec­tive and they’ll have one from their per­spec­tive, and then we’ll work to­wards fram­ing out a new fis­cal ar­range­ment that we’ve been look­ing for so long.”

Over $5 mil­lion al­lot­ted for fire de­part­ments across the prov­ince is an­other key as­pect for MNL in Budget 2014.

“It’s al­ways a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment,” Mr. Rogers ac­knowl­edged.

“They’re talk­ing about buy­ing some new fire trucks, and some de­part­ments just sim­ply need to buy some equip­ment like suits, breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tuses, and these kinds of things. So, that’s al­ways good to see that there’s fund­ing put aside for the fire emer­gency ser­vice groups to do the work that is so fun­da­men­tal for ev­ery mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

The govern­ment has also com­mit­ted $4 mil­lion for mar­ket­ing tourism in the next two years, and that’s an­other bonus for many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Mr. Roger’s said.

“That’s al­ways good be­cause any time you can drive the tourism in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly in some of the smaller ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, it’s cer­tainly dol­lars to­wards the econ­omy and that’s al­ways pos­i­tive. Hav­ing seen the growth of the tourism in­dus­try in the last few years, it’s cer­tainly sig­nif­i­cant in many parts of the prov­ince.”

While there was a few let downs in Budget 2014, Mr. Rogers in­di­cated MNL will push to­wards turn­ing the tide in 2015.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we didn’t get the HST re­bates that we’ve been ask­ing for. Hav­ing said that, we are com­mit­ted to 2015, and that’s our tar­get date and govern­ment knows that. The work that we’re do­ing now, the sig­nif­i­cant work prior to the fall, has to be com­pleted.

“Based on that, I’m hop­ing that we’re go­ing to see a ma­jor change to the way mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are funded in New­found­land and Labrador.”

Gan­der Beacon

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador pres­i­dent Churence Rogers said this year’s budget is good news for com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince. How­ever, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is work­ing with the govern­ment to make a sig­nif­i­cant change to mu­nic­i­pal fund­ing in...

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