DSSAB OKs 3% budget hike

Peggy Revell

A budget of $19,851,785 for 2009 was approved by the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board last night.
“The overall budget increase . . . was 3.01 percent, but the municipal increase was only 1.06 percent,” Finance manager Leanne Eluik told the board.
“And that is mainly due to the increase in the unincorporated assessment, and the province is picking up a bigger share this year,” she explained.
Eluik said increases for this year primarily are due to:
•a three percent salary increase in the 2008-11 staff agreement;
•funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services that must be matched by the DSSAB for mandatory training of “Ontario Works” administration staff;
•increasing administrative costs for child care that must be covered by the municipalities since the Ministry of Children and Youth Services hasn’t increased its funding for administration costs of the program;
•required matching of provincial funding for land ambulance under the 50/50 cost share plan with the Ministry of Health; and
•capital funds for social housing units to ensure they are brought up to, and maintained at, appropriate standards.
Eluik noted there were some cost-savings reflected in the budget, such as Phase Two of the provincial upload for the Ontario Disability Support Program, which saw the program’s administration costs covered by the province.
As well, 2008 saw the end of the National Child Benefit Strategy.
Changes to the “Ontario Works” program and caseloads within the past year also have meant some cost-savings, Eluik added.
“[In] 2007, we saw extremely high caseloads, 2008, for whatever reason, we saw very low caseloads,” she noted. “2009 we sort of fit somewhere in the middle.”