Letter: Concern over municipal funding back up plan

As Morinville enters 2013 with an approved budget, we do so believing we are in a relatively strong good financial position. We appear to have some operational reserves intact and are confident of the proposed grant funding Morinville’s Administration is projecting to receive from the Federal and Provincial levels of Governments. This is clearly identified in a document called “Responses and Clarification to the 2013 Operating Budget and Capital Plan.” This document can be found on the Town of Morinville’s website under the 2013 budget heading. I would like to quote from this document the following statement found on page 3 under Capital Reserves sub heading:

“As most Capital projects will be funded through existing Government Grants such as the Basic Municipal Transportation Grant and the Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant, it is not anticipated there will be a draw down on Capital Reserves over the next 3-5 years.”

However, before we become too complacent about ongoing revenues from provincial and federal governments, I would direct everyone’s attention to an article in the Edmonton Sun on Tuesday, January 15th. This article, Tough Choices on Table, was written by Jackie L. Larson and discusses the degree to which our provincial government seems to have ‘misread’ anticipated revenues.

A small portion of this article talks about the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding where Premier Redford’s earlier pledge to increase MSI funding starting 2014/15 is now very much in jeopardy. Also in jeopardy is her pledge to the Alberta Urban Municipalities not to balance the budget on the backs of municipalities. While there is nothing concrete in this article which states absolutely that transfers to urban municipalities are going to be cut, I believe that the very real possibility of this happening should be causing alarm bells to be ringing quite loudly in our Council Chambers and administration offices.

In closing, I would like to ask Council and Administration AGAIN – What are your plans if the province freezes or reduces grant transfers. For 2013. The MSI grant indicated in the budget documents is $1,477,615, as well as a Basic Municipal Transportation Grant of $510,240. This was but one of the questions I raised during my 2013 Budget Presentation at the November 13th Council Meeting – yet to be answered.

Linda Lyons

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