Consider towns when it comes to gas tax revenue: council

The Town of Fort Frances is sending a letter to Municipal Affairs and Housing minister John Gerretsen to ask the province to consider municipalities of all sizes when it comes to making decisions regarding the share of gas tax revenues mentioned in the provincial budget.
“We are writing to you in response to the 2004 budget,” begins the letter, which was drafted by Coun. Tannis Drysdale.
“This budget commits to a number of key advances that will benefit property taxpayers, including changes to public health cost-sharing, providing a share of the provincial gas tax for public transit, new provincial funding for municipal infrastructure, and improvements to property tax policy rules that will empower municipal government,” it added.
“We are very pleased to see these advances, but have become concerned that small, rural municipalities such as ours will not receive the full benefit of this era of municipal-provincial government co-operation.
“During a recent meeting with the Minister of Finance, representatives of our municipality were informed that the terms for receipt of the gas tax revenue was still under active review.
“We are requesting that you consider the following in determining the allocation of this new municipal revenue source,” the letter states.
“Small rural municipalities do have the financial capacity to operate a broad-based public transit system,” it reads. “In the Town of Fort Frances, we accommodate our minimal public transit needs through the more economically-viable option of subsidizing a private-sector cab system.
“As you are aware, local municipal governments are in the best position to make decisions regarding priorities in their communities. Planning priorities within the Town of Fort Frances differ greatly than those of the City of Toronto.
“Our priorities are built around the challenges of declining assessment and population, the need for economic diversification, and maintaining the financial capacity to maintain the existing infrastructure that serves our citizens.
“We are hopeful that in developing the criteria for municipalities to receive benefit from this new revenue source that the government will very seriously consider the varying needs of local governments large and small,” the letter adds.
“We look forward to working with your ministry on this and other matters in of mutual interest, as together, in co-operation, we build healthy and vibrant communities across this great province,” it concludes.
Council agreed at its meeting Monday night to endorse the letter on the recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee.