The Carleton Place town council’s community issues committee heard an update on June 20 from Chief Administrative Officer Paul Knowles about a new report from the Association of Municipalities (AMO) that seeks to address the growing gap between municipal revenues and costs.
The AMO’s report, dubbed “What’s Next Ontario,” is a product of two years of in-depth financial analysis and outreach, including dozens of meetings with hundreds of elected officials. According to the AMO, “Costs are growing, and infrastructure needs are critical. Yet municipal governments lack the tools and authority to secure a stable financial future for our communities.”
To meet the challenge, it has put together a proposed “Local Share” action plan that would install a new one per cent sales tax to help fund critical local infrastructure such as roads, bridges and transit. Its goal is to reduce the pressure to impose property tax increases while providing municipal governments with a more diverse source of revenues.
While Knowles noted “there’s nothing easy about putting up taxes,” Councillor Sean Redmond expressed concern that Carleton Place and other municipalities would not receive proportionate proceeds from such a tax. Mayor Louis Antonakos, meanwhile, felt that the AMO should explore ways to cut costs before placing additional burdens on taxpayers.
In responding to the AMO’s request for input, the community issues committee passed a motion to “support AMO’s efforts to ensure municipal revenues are sufficient to fund municipal costs but that specific cost cutting measures should be identified and pursued with equal vigour so that the gap between municipal revenue and costs can be closed, with priority given to cost cutting measures,” and only instituting a one percent HST increase as a last resort.