The Woolwich Observer
KANNON: Serious, long-term thinking has long been absent
– massively pronounced due to the pandemic – the province and the federal government have empty coffers of their own.
Cash-strapped municipalities have long called one-off grants and programs inadequate, preferring guaranteed slices of taxes such as the GST. There’s been some successes, such as sharing in fuel tax revenues, but many municipalities have proven unwise in their spending and mismanage the taxes they already collect; it would be folly to let them reach even deeper into our pockets.
Municipalities should indeed expect a bigger share of the revenues collected by senior governments. Looking to fix its fiscal situation, Ottawa downloaded costs to the provinces. In Ontario, the province in turn passed down the expense of many programs to the municipalities, with an inadequate share of the money to fund them. Over time, that decision put an increasing amount of strain on municipal budgets, and communities were hard-pressed to deal with immediate costs, let alone stockpile reserves for the replacement of aging infrastructure.
For the foreseeable future, however, municipalities will have to get their own houses in order if they’re going to deal with their infrastructure, some of it at a critical juncture. In the meantime, much will be sacrificed for years of neglect and still half-hearted efforts to save for the future.