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Mayor Kelly to Attend Hub Cities Conference This Weekend
16/04)-- With the implementation of a federal revenue sharing program
for municipalities, Halifax Regional Municipality could start to
reduce an ever increasing infrastructure gap and develop a sustainable
and more environmentally friendly transportation infrastructure,
Mayor Peter Kelly said today.
Mayor Kelly, who will be attending the Hub Cities Mayors Summit in Toronto on Saturday, said “HRM has a large capacity gap, and the state of our municipal assets is poor. Long-term, sustainable funding for municipalities is a cornerstone to the continued success of Canadian cities.” The infrastructure gap (funds required to repair, restore or replace aging infrastructure) across Canada is more than $60 billion today and increasing by more than $2 billion annually.
He said Prime Minister Paul Martin’s commitment to provide municipalities a share of the federal Fuel Tax ( ramping up to 5-cents a litre over a phased-in period) was a great step forward in this respect because it would give municipalities of source of predictable funding.
The Mayor said transportation infrastructure and environmental protection are among the key priorities for HRM. A formula for Fuel Tax sharing, or any mechanism to share revenue with municipalities, is imperative to the municipality’s ability to address critical transportation needs.
“HRM supports a formula that is sustainable over the long-term and considers population
numbers and the associated demands on infrastructure, “ Mayor Kelly said. “We are committed to working with other levels of government and community organizations on areas of common priority to improve social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability in the region. By working together, we are a strong voice for change.
The Mayor said four provinces-- British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario-- have already committed to work with their cities and to put in place an agreement to facilitate the distribution of federal funds to municipalities. HRM looks forward to working with the Nova Scotia government for a similar arrangement.
Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) 222-9999 (cell)
Federal Revenue Sharing
Implications for HRM
With the implementation of a federal revenue sharing program for municipalities, HRM could start to reduce an ever increasing infrastructure gap and develop sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation infrastructure in the region. HRM has a large capacity gap, the state of municipal assets is poor. Currently, there is limited capability to address these problems; although HRM financial situation, after much hard work, is solid.
Transportation infrastructure is a priority to HRM. A formula for fuel tax sharing, or any mechanism to share revenue with municipalities, is imperative to the municipality’s ability to address critical transportation needs. Any formula should be structured to encourage environmentally friendly development.
HRM is a growing and thriving municipality:
• HRM has 44% of Nova Scotia’s total employment, and 40% of the total population
• HRM has a population of 370,000 and it is expected to continue it’s steady growth, adding an additional 100,000 residents in the next 20 years
• HRM is working an effective multi-year financial strategy that includes a debt management plan - retiring more debt each year.
• HRM has received a bond rating of “A” from Standard & Poor’s
• HRM has strong per capita income and GDP
HRM faces many realities limiting flexibility to deal with critical needs:
• HRM is dependent on property tax for over 75%of revenue
• HRM receives 1.4% of total revenue from the provincial government
• HRM has mandated expenditures from province of over 15% of total revenue
• HRM has a significant infrastructure gap, valued at $30 million per year
HRM’s role in creating a sustainable municipality:
HRM applauds and encourages the federal government’s dedication to urban renewal and the cities agenda. Municipalities have a significant role to play in ensuring any program is a long term success. HRM takes the role seriously. Key to reducing and eliminating the increasing gap is sustainable development and growth. HRM is well on its way to a formalized regional plan that will guide development to promote a healthy sustainable vibrant community. A primary outcome of regional planning is to ensure smart growth and diminish infrastructure and environmental impacts. For example, growth on central water and sewer is key to sustainable development. In Halifax in the last 5 years, approximately one half of new homes built have individual well and septic systems. HRM is working aggressively to remedy situations like this.
Transportation is a priority:
Like many municipalities, transportation infrastructure is a priority for the region. HRM is focussed on resolving transportation challenges and accommodating new traffic demands in a manner which is environmentally responsible. In conjunction with the new Bus Rapid Transit program HRM is considering further options to get people out of cars and improve traffic bottlenecks, reduce emissions, and provide opportunities for alternative fuel sources.
Not only are there opportunities for improving transportation challenges through focus on municipal infrastructure, but these initiatives are closely linked to other areas of healthy urban living. Halifax is focussing, through regional planning, on creating open space corridors - this includes active transportation planning and heritage conservation and has a significant impact on quality water resources.
Recognizing differences between municipalities:
Each province has many municipalities within its boundaries - and no two municipalities are the same. Different regions have different mandates, responsibilities, revenue capacity and expenses. Municipalities have a role to play in ensuring differences are recognized. When such differences are known and understood, there will be more opportunity for municipalities to partner within and between levels of government in the development of programs that best meet the needs of the individual municipality. Government programs should recognize that different jurisdictions have different strengths and weaknesses and provide flexibility in implementation.
Conclusion - long term funding for municipalities:
Long-term, sustainable funding for municipalities is a cornerstone to the continued success of Canadian cities. The federal commitment to provide municipalities a share of the fuel tax was a great step forward in this respect as it would give municipalities of source of predictable funding. HRM suggests a formula that is environmentally sustainable and considers population and the associated demands on infrastructure. A consumption based formula has potential disincentive effects.
Working together for change:
Cooperation and coordination are key to positive change. HRM is committed to working with other levels of government and community organizations on areas of common priority to improve social, environmental, cultural and economic sustainability in the region. By working together, we are a strong voice for change.
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