“I don’t think it will be a popular message
right now but I think it is time. We have had
significant increases in the last few years.
I’m not here to say we don’t have to get
our debt to a manageable level.
I believe we do.”
The Premier's new "tighten your belt" message is not going over large with Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador President, Churence Rogers.
The former Liberal Party President & candidate, says the Premier unfairly suggested that municipalities are not doing enough towards promoting regional collaboration.
He told Transcontiental Media that the organization has taken demonstrable steps over the past few years to encourage regional -co-operation. MNL has hired staff, created a community corporation officer, completed a study of services that can be shared and thought they were working with the province to find savings, deficiencies and opportunities for regional cooperation.
A number of municipal leaders from across the province have reacted to the Premier's comments. Back in November, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador released a document which provides a snapshot of municipal governance in the province.
Rogers says the data resulting from the census show the financial and demographic challenges being faced by councils across the province and the importance of finding long-term solutions.
St. John's Mayor, Dennis O'Keefe has asked the province to revisit a regime that prohibits the city from collecting tax from the provincial government for its properties, including hospitals, even though it must provide municipal services. This issue has been a bone of contention for the crew at Gower Street for a generation going back to the days of the Wells, Tobin, Grimes, Williams and now the Dunderdale administration.
Municipalities are looking for a bigger piece of the taxation pie at a time when the government is saying it has to tighten it's financial belt.
With two offshore floating production facilities scheduled to un-hook for overdue repairs and maintenance, It sounds like the status quo for municipalities. In fact, Finance Minister Tom Marshall said as much inan interview with CBC's David Cochrane last week.
The MNL is not the only group to react to the Premier's austarity agenda. The heads of the various public sector unions have expressed concern about the approach ahead of this Spring's round of salary negotiations. A series of public sector collective agreements are set to expire on Mar. 31.
I hear that train a coming,
Its rolling around the bend.
This Spring's budget is going to disappoint!