Augusta Township at AMO Conference

Augusta Township at AMO Conference

Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka

Augusta Township’s Chief Administration Officer, Ray Morrison and I attended the 2019 edition of the annual Conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) held in Ottawa from Sunday, August 18th to Wednesday, August 21, 2019.  Attendance at the Conference is invaluable to Township staff and municipal Councillors for numerous reasons.  They include a trade show featuring companies that provide sales services to Municipalities, information sessions on important issues facing municipalities and opportunities to have face to face meetings with Provincial government Ministers and Departmental staffs. These opportunities of direct contact enables municipalities to comment on government policy and programs and to seek the government support on local initiatives.  At this Conference CAO Morrison met with the MPP Prabmeet Sakaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MPP Greg Rickford Minister of Energy.  Our purpose was to seek government support and assistance to bring new industry to the Maitland Invista Chemical Park.  Our efforts were rewarded by a commitment of both Ministers to have follow-up meetings with us to explore possibilities.

Often, Governments in power use the AMO annual Conference to announce new policy and initiatives.  In this case, the Conservative used the event to announce updates to current initiatives.  The following provided by AMO summarizes Provincial announcements affecting municipal upper and lower tier governments:

Child Care:  Previously announced changes to implement an 80-20 provincial municipal cost-sharing for child care expansion starting in 2020 will now be phased-in over a three-year period.

Public Health: The cost sharing arrangement in 2020 will be at 70-30 provincial-municipal split and those public health units already contributing 30% or more will not be impacted. Those that are impacted will see one-time transitional funding.  In the first year, no public health unit will experience an increase over 10 per cent of current public health costs as a result of this cost-sharing change, and the Ministry will soon launch renewed consultation on the province’s proposed larger regional public health structure approach, recognizing it “inspired widespread and spirited discussion”.  The consultation will see a discussion paper available, it will ensure enough time is provided and it will be supported by an expert advisor.

Paramedic Services: Paramedic services will receive a 4% increase in 2019; A further increase in 2020 can be expected, subject to the next provincial budget.  Funding letters have been sent to EMS services informing them of the new allocation.  Consultation on paramedic services restructuring is also to be done by the expert advisor.

Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF):  There will be no changes to the structure of the 2020 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and the allocations will come in time to provide municipal governments with greater certainty for their 2020 budget work.

Social Assistance funding: There will be no changes for 2020 to the Ontario Budget’s planned Ontario Works program administration funding.

Infrastructure: The province (Infrastructure and Transportation) will work with AMO as they review the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) and the Ontario Gas Tax for Transit.

Conservation Authorities:  Conservation Authorities received letters on August 16th from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks regarding direction on expected CA core business. This raises questions on what happens to non-core activities.

Federal Gas Tax program:  In July, AMO distributed $970 million in gas tax funds. It included $650 million in top-up funding along with the first installment of the existing 2019 allocation.  The remainder of the 2019 allocation will be distributed in November. That payment will be supplemented with an additional $12 million in funding generated through efficiencies in the administration of the program.

Community Benefit Charges (CBC):  The AMO Board endorsed the Municipal Financial Officers Association detailed submission on this new tool which allows for the collection of fees on soft services needed as generated by development.  Community facilities, and parks for example are no longer eligible for Development Charges fees.  DCs are restricted to hard services which now includes waste and ambulance.  Both tools come with additional conditions and reporting requirements.

Property Assessment:  AMO is investigating the impact that the disruptive economy may bring to the market value assessment and tax equation.

On a separate matter, I want to remind everyone that the 88th edition of the annual North Augusta Labour Day Festival takes place from Monday, August 26 to Monday, September 2nd, 2019. Events through the week of festivity include Bavarian Gardens, music, carnival rides, face painting, kids zone, wagon Rides by R&D Dairies, and mixed recreational slo‑Pitch to name a few.  The annual Labour Day Parade with the theme, “Hollywood” will start at noon.  For further details go to the Event page for the festival.