Cities, towns and rural municipalities in Manitoba will receive $34.5 million worth of additional provincial funding this year. They were hoping for almost 10 times that amount.
The 2013 provincial budget calls for the Selinger government to provide $347.9 million worth of financial assistance to Manitoba municipalities through local government, up from $312.4 million last year.
Manitoba's municipalities, which have long called for the province to devote one percentage point of provincial sales tax -- $277 million a year -- to municipal infrastructure, were dismayed to see plans for a provincial sales tax that will generate money for provincial priorities instead. Doug Dobrowolski, an RM of Macdonald councillor who serves as president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, complained his members will be forced to pay the higher provincial sales tax while the province will use the proceeds for its own purposes.
"They're raising that one per cent to fulfil their commitments to the (federal) Building Canada Fund. We've been asking for more than that," he charged. "They've taken our tax room to fulfil their own needs."
The largest recipient of additional provincial transfers was the City of Winnipeg, which will get $22.3 million worth of additional funding.
That figure includes approximately $7 million for local street renewals, $9.3 million to help build the $77-million Plessis Road underpass, and $5 million to complete the Southwest Transitway, which has a projected price tag of $350 million.
Breaking with tradition, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz's office declined to comment on the provincial budget, citing the need to digest the budget details for one day.
Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, however, took to Twitter to ridicule the additional funding for street renewals.
It takes "$420,000 to complete one block. You do the math," she tweeted.
The province also promised to upgrade Brandon's Keystone Centre and Churchill's Town Centre.
-- Bartley Kives