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Mayor Kelly to Press for New Revenues
(Thursday, March 25/2004)-- Mayor Peter Kelly will be seeking support from the Atlantic Mayors' Congress this weekend to urge the federal government to begin negotiations immediately with the provinces and territories to share a portion of the fuel tax with Canadian municipalities.
Mayor Kelly, who will be attending the two-day session of the Congress in Moncton on Friday and Saturday, says his resolution will also ask the Martin government to conclude those negotiations in time to earmark those funds in the next federal budget, and to ensure there will be no claw backs by the provinces/territories on this new source of revenue for the municipalities.
"It's unfortunate that these new revenues will not be available to us until the next federal budget, because we badly need them to address our crumbling infrastructure. However, the last thing we want to see is for the federal government to give us new revenues, and have the provinces claw back those funds in other ways. If that's allowed to happen, there will be absolutely no benefit to the municipalities," he said.
The Martin government announced in its recent Speech from the Throne and in its budget address this week it is committed to making a portion of the federal fuel tax (or through a similar mechanism) available to Canadian municipalities for infrastructure projects. A five-cent per litre share could mean between $75 million and $80 million a year for Nova Scotian municipalities; Halifax Regional Municipality's portion would be $32 million.
Mayor Kelly, who is Chair of the Atlantic Mayors' Congress, will also be asking his colleagues to support efforts to urge federal Infrastructure Minister Andy Scott to fast-track projects in Atlantic Canada. The Minister will be a keynote speaker at the Congress.
"The economy in the Atlantic provinces is not as strong as in some other parts of Canada.
If we could fast-track approval of eligible projects under the federal infrastructure program, it would create much needed employment and help us address some of our immediate challenges in repairing, restoring or replacing our aging infrastructure," the Mayor said.
Mayor Kelly will also be briefing the Atlantic mayors on discussions at recent meetings of the Toronto Mayor's Summit and the Big City Mayors Caucus.
He also plans to raise the issue that none of the $17 million to $25 million in additional funding for urban aboriginal initiatives included in the March 23rd federal budget will be allotted to the Atlantic Provinces.
Other topics to be discuss at the Atlantic Mayors' Congress include a municipal tax credit program for historic places; Atlantic tourism; agricultural developments; municipal autonomy; and funding stability
Mayor Peter Kelly