Local government wants greater share of tax dollar

Municipalities say the money is needed to sustain key infrastructure

Most Manitobans agree local councils should get a fairer share of infrastructure tax dollars and have greater say in how they’re spent.

That’s according to a recent poll conducted for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities which showed 85 per cent of those surveyed by NPG Research in January think local government should have access to a larger share of the provincial tax dollar.

The AMM has launched a campaign leading up to next month’s provincial election asking Manitobans to support their call for help finding the cash needed to upgrade and improve streets, bridges, water and sewer pipes and plants, public transportation and recreation centres.

Local government is responsible for 60 per cent of all costs associated with this sort of infrastructure, yet receive just eight cents of every tax dollar, said AMM president and Steinbach mayor, Chris Goertzen in a 
news release.

“Adding to the pressure is that we often have little to no say in how the rest gets spent — despite the fact that we live and work in the communities we represent, so are in the best position to identify top priorities.”

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, cited in the same release, said Ottawa is prepared to prioritize municipal spending and make funding more flexible to meet municipalities’ needs and requirements.

The Federation of Can­adian Municipalities (FCM), representing local government across the country, has warned one-third of all infrastructure in Canada is at risk of deterioration and action is needed.

Goertzen said the AMM’s ask for a fairer share of taxes is often viewed as asking for “new dollars” but what it wants is more efficient allocation of existing tax dollars.

That could include exempting or rebating municipalities the $25 million they now pay to the province through the provincial sales tax, or dedicating to them a full one per cent of PST they could use to put toward infrastructure. Lessening requirements that local governments match funds — which most don’t have in the first place — would also help.

Bowman said municipal leaders want Manitoba’s party leaders to put concrete plans on the table to help resolve the infrastructure funding problem.

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