Mayors air grievances over Manitoba budget
Leaders outline range of complaints about infrastructure spending in 2013 budget
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is continuing his campaign against the Province of Manitoba over its decision to raise the provincial sales tax to pay for infrastructure.
Katz wants more money for municipalities than Budget 2013 calls for. Other municipal leaders want more money as well.
About 10 leaders of Manitoba’s largest municipalities gathered at city hall to sign a letter to Premier Greg Selinger, asking him to reconsider the amount of money he has dedicated to municipal infrastructure.
"To see all these mayors united as one is extremely important in that it makes a statement," said Katz.
That statement is municipalities want a bigger share of infrastructure funds doled out by the province.
Selinger has been under fire since the release of the latest budget for his decision to raise the provincial sales tax to eight per cent from seven per cent.
The cash raised from the hike will go entirely to infrastructure, but Katz said there isn’t enough being given to municipalities.
He’d like to see all of the funds collected from the hike go specifically to municipal infrastructure.
The province’s 2013 budget instead called for $30 million more this year to go specifically to municipalities. Not enough, according to Steinbach’s mayor Chris Goertzen.
"They are really crumbs. We hear $7 million. We hear a few million dollars here and there," said Goertzen.
Selinger challenged that notion Thursday.
"We give the equivalent of one point of provincial sales tax to all the municipalities. That expands this year," said Selinger.
"They get another $30 million this year."
Katz said some of that money includes previously announced spending – like plans to convert a portion of Plessis Road into an underpass.
Katz added Winnipeg is getting only $7 million in new infrastructure spending for 2013.
Municipal leaders also said they want more control of the funds they do receive. Goertzen said local leaders should be able to decide what projects get done in their municipalities — not provincial officials.