Posted on Friday, January 25, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
Municipalities get to keep road building help fund
Staff are still crunching numbers for this year’s final budget for the counties but one thing is certain. There will still be a special fund to help every municipality in Prescott-Russell with local road improvements.
“We’ve got quite a few balls to juggle with this budget,” said Mayor François St-Amour of The Nation Municipality, during the budget review portion of Wednesday’s regular session of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council. Mayor St-Amour offered up a suggestion which all of his fellow mayors agreed on as part of a solution to keep a municipal infrastructure aid fund as part of this year’s and next year’s counties budget.
The preliminary counties budget report presented earlier this month did not include a $2 million municipal infrastructure aid fund. The fund was created four years ago after the UCPR abandoned its proposed ecoLarose conference centre project for lack of senior government financial support.
The UCPR’s share of the ecoLarose project was used instead to create a municipal aid fund with $2 million shared out each year among the eight member municipalities to help with their own road improvement needs (see photo). Last year was the end of the four-year agreement for the special fund and it was dropped from the 2019 budget draft because the UCPR has several major expenses this year.
The eight mayors objected to cancellation of the fund. Counties staff reworked the budget plan to keep the $2 million aid fund by trimming costs for other programs and also drawing on the counties’s working reserve fund.
St-Amour’s suggestion, based on staff recommendations, was to keep the aid fund at $2 million in this year’s counties budget, and then cut it down to $1.5 million in the 2020 budget. That would help all eight municipalities with their capital works planning this year and give them more time to prioritize their roadworks funding needs for next year.
Counties staff will do further refinements to the UCPR 2019 budget plan and present it to counties council next month for review and approval.