A $725,000 grant from the provincial government to improve service delivery is a “bonus,” according to Brock Township Treasurer Laura Barta.
She gave members of council an overview of the grant – designed to help municipalities modernize services – during Monday (April 8) afternoon’s meeting of the finance committee.
The one-time funding was announced by the Province late last month and could be spent on a number of initiatives, including service delivery reviews, development of shared services agreements, IT solutions, capital investments and other projects.
“It could include many things,” Barta said, including a new phone system at the municipal office as well as other technological improvements.
“It’s pretty vague…modernizing could be taken so many different ways,” said Regional Councillor Ted Smith.
While appreciative of the funding, Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer said that he hoped that it wasn’t a harbinger of impending downloading from the Province in advance of the budget announcement later this week.
“Giving with one hand only to take away with the other,” he said.
“We’ll wait with bated breath to see what impact the provincial budget has,” added Coun. Smith.
Mayor Debbie Bath-Hadden agreed, saying that none of the money should be spent until the provincial budget is delivered and the Township concludes its operational review.
“I don’t want to see us rushing into anything,” she said, thanking Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott for the funding.
Council unanimously supported a motion to move the grant into a reserve pending the outcome of the operational review.
A media release from the Province notes that the funds will provide critical support to small and rural municipalities that may have limited capacity to plan, modernize and improve the way they provide services to their communities. Municipalities will have the ability to decide how to best use these funds to benefit their communities.
“Taxpayers need their local government to deliver modern, efficient services that show respect for their hard-earned dollars. This funding will help small and rural municipalities improve how they deliver services and reduce the ongoing costs of providing those services,” Clark said.
“I look forward to continuing to work together with our municipal partners to help people and businesses in communities across our province thrive.”
“I am pleased that our municipal partners will have the ability to invest these funds where they feel it will have the biggest impact,” Scott added.
“This modernization funding recognizes the unique needs and circumstances of rural communities in our riding and provides them with the support they need to deliver services efficiently and effectively.”