Municipal leaders were glad to see an increase in unconditional grants to municipalities last week, and even seemed a tad surprised to get it during what they knew would be one tough budget.
The province’s budget for 2010 includes an overall increase of 6.5 per cent in unconditional grants for municipalities, which flow to each jurisdiction on a per capita basis. The increase was unexpected, but definitely welcomed, Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) president Doug Dobrowolski said.
A drop of around $800,000 in VLT revenues has been affecting municipalities’ bottom lines, he said.
“The fact that these funds have no conditions attached means they can be applied to areas where they are needed most.”
The addition of 1,500 new social housing units and $2 million for new apprenticeships are other welcome announcements, Dobrowolski said.
But no new funding for conservation districts is a big disappointment, as are cuts to agriculture-related infrastructure investment and reduced funding to the Manitoba Water Services Board.
Local leaders will also remain worried over how to pay for costly upgrades now needed for water and waste water infrastructure. The budget allocated $42 million in that area.
No new funding for public libraries was another disappointment. Manitoba ranks second in all of Canada for the highest municipal contribution to public libraries, the AMM leader said. [email protected].com