The scaling back of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding grants could leave the City of Grande Prairie with some potentially difficult decisions for their budget process.
“I think this provincial budget really should cause all municipalities to have some thoughts about the fundamental ways we do business,” says Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given.
“It’s clear that the old way of doing things is over and we are all going to have to change,” he adds.
Announced as part of Finance Minister Travis Toews’ first provincial budget on October 24, MSI funding grants will be reduced $94 million across the province in 2020-21, with a further reduction of $142 million set for 2021-2022. It marks a 9 percent total reduction over the next two years.
Given says it’s helpful to have certainty around the future of MSI funding, but adds it will now be down to local levels of government to come up with the difference.
He adds MSI grants given to Grande Prairie have ranged between $9 to $10 million, which leaves city council with at least east two options going forward long term if that funding continues to shrink.
“This doesn’t mean the city’s road rehab and overlay program is going to be reduced, but we will have less capital funding to go around,” he says.
“We will have to either do [fewer] other projects and focus our capital dollars on very core things, or that we would have to increase property taxes to make up the same amount.”
Public budget deliberations are slated to take place in November.