Ontario finally confirms funding for municipalities

The uncertainty around provincial dollars for municipalities have been lifted. The Ministry of Finance sent out notices Wednesday.

City of Windsor will receive around $23 million, the same as last year

The City of Windsor, along with other Ontario municipalities, received word from the province that it will receive around the same amount of funding as last year. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Municipalities will be getting the provincial dollars they're relying on for their 2019 budgets.

The Ministry of Finance sent notices to municipalities Feb. 13, saying they will get amounts similar to what they received in 2018 as part of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF).

For the City of Windsor, that amounts to roughly $23 million. The city has already received the first installment of $6 million.

"It's a funding source for all of the municipal services that we provide," said Joe Mancina, chief financial officer and city treasurer at the city.

"If we didn't receive that amount of funding from the province, that would translate into approximately a 6 per cent property tax levy increase, so quite substantial."

The city had been waiting on these dollars to table its budget. Even though there is now certainty the money is there, there is no change to the city's plans to deliberate the budget in early April.

Essex town council will be deliberating changes to the budget now that there's confirmation of provincial dollars. (Town of Essex)

In an email from the Ministry of Finance, spokesperson Robert Gibson said the ministry is maintaining the fund recognizing that it's already "well into the municipal budget year."

"We heard the concerns of municipalities and that is why we are now providing the certainty they need to begin finalizing their budgets," the email reads.

The ministry said it will also continue to consult with municipalities about the program to ensure its sustainability.

Essex town council had already approved its operational budget, which had a 20 per cent OMPF reduction — totaling $846,240 —  built into it.

"So we're going to reverse the model that we built, to offset the reduction of OMPF funding, so it will make us whole again," said Jeff Morrison, director of corporate services at the town.

The budget will be discussed on Feb. 25.

According to Windsor's Mancina, the province said the notices will come out sooner next time.

"They've committed to announcing the 2020 allocations well in advance of municipal budget year, so hopefully for next year we'll have advanced notice in terms of what our OMPF allocation will be," he said.