Cities must ‘find efficiencies’ to manage provincial funding changes: Yurek

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek isn’t buying London city council’s claim that “provincial downloading” will drive up property taxes.

Yurek tells CTV News that council should take a closer look at its priorities.

“There’s probably some special project or projects outside of core mandates of certain areas that are being completed now that maybe they should take another look at, and focus their money on core services, that’s what we are doing as a government.”

On Monday, City of London Treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon told council that provincial downloading will add about $3 million a year to city hall’s budget.

The Middlesex London Health Unit, London Transit and regional conservation authorities are all facing unanticipated budget pressures.

The average annual property tax increase required to maintain current service levels at city hall was raised from 2.2 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

On Monday, Mayor Ed Holder said he had intended to keep an election commitment to keep tax increases at or below inflation, however, “The wildcard in this is the provincial downloading.”

And last week Holder’s name was included on a letter from Ontario’s big-city mayors accusing the provincial government of “downloading by stealth.”

On Friday, Yurek denied the funding changes amount to provincial downloading.

“The call out is now for municipal governments to take a look at themselves, transform their services, find efficiencies to provide the front-line services that are needed, but doing so in an era when the previous government spent us into the largest hole, the largest debt.

“We are trying to find solutions to maintain those services and hoping the municipalities help us deliver that.”



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