Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 at 3:15 p.m.
Mayors want municipal aid fund in counties budget
The mayors for Prescott-Russell’s eight municipalities want a $2 million municipal aid fund to remain part of this year’s counties budget.
Yesterday was the first meeting of the new year for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) council and most of the morning session was spent dealing with a report on the draft for the 2019 council budget.
“It (budget preparation) is always difficult,” said Julie Ménard-Brault, UCPR finance director (see photo), “but this year will be even more so.”
Several mayors on counties council argued against dropping a special municipal aid fund from the 2019 counties budget. The $2 million fund has been part of the counties budget for several years.
It was created four years ago after the UCPR abandoned a proposed ecoLarose conference centre project for lack of senior government support funding. The UCPR’s share of the estimated cost was still available and rather than put it back in reserve chose instead to use the money to create a special municipal aid fund with $2 million shared out each year among the eight member municipalities.
Last year was the end of the four-year agreement for the special fund. Ménard-Brault said the fund is not part of the 2019 draft budget because the UCPR has several major expenses this year which it did not have in past years when the counties enjoyed minimal or even zero tax rate increases.
The UCPR has to budget for the regional fire dispatch service, a financial responsibility it took over from Town of Hawkesbury, which used to offer the service to its fellow municipalities in Prescott-Russell. The counties also has to budget for architectural planning this year for the new Prescott-Russell Residence project.
Counties council has directed administration and finance department staff to look into possible options to keep the $2 million aid fund in this year’s budget. Staff will present options for council to consider during its next budget plan report later this month.