Social Services funding could dry up for City of Hamilton

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

The provincial minister of municipal affairs hinted Hamilton may not get its much-sought after special social services funding to plug its leaky financial holes in the city’s 2010 budget.

And city officials and politicians are starting to believe they also may not get the $16.5 million funding from the province either.

Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson said in an interview, the province is dealing with a $24 billion deficit and provincial leaders need to look at their own spending habits.

“(The funding) has to be on the table when looking at a $24 billion deficit,” said Mr. Watson, who talked to reporters after speaking to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce last week.

“Everybody realizes our ability to provide these kinds of top offs become even more challenging,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious the money has to come from somewhere. It’s pretty difficult to make one-off challenges.”

When asked if there is a possibility Hamilton would not receive the funding for the first time since 2003, Mr. Watson responded, “That is one of the possibilities.”

Hamilton officials and politicians are betting the city receives its annual social services funding. If the money doesn’t come through, politicians will then be facing a potential 8.4 per cent average tax increase, as opposed to a 5.4 per cent tax hike.

“If we don’t get (the funding), we will have to be more aggressive (in cutting the budget),” said Robert Rossini, general manager of finances and corporate services.

Since 2003, Hamilton has received a total of over $70 million in special social services funding. The province provided the city $16.5 million for this year’s budget, and $12.5 million in 2008. Both times Liberal officials, including local MPP Ted McMeekin, told city officials Hamilton would not receive further money. Mr. Watson said the decision will be made by the Dwight Duncan, minister of finance, possibly next March.

“Every year funding has been given to Hamilton,” he said. “Whether we will be able to top it up again, the finance minister will have to decide.”

Mr. Watson defended his government’s financial assistance to the city since the Liberals assumed power.

For instance, Hamilton not only received $16.5 million from the province, but an additional $15 million this year from the provincial government taking over 50 per cent responsibility for Ontario Disability Supplement Program. The province will assume full responsibility for ODSP in 2011, and prisoner transportation and court services costs in 2011.

The province agreed to upload a number of services from municipalities’ financial shoulders that were downloaded from the province during the reign of the former Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government.

In addition, Mr. Watson, holding a graph, said the province has given Hamilton through various transfer payments close to $440 million in 2009.

“Hamilton will certainly benefit from the uploading,” he said.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who discussed the issue with Mr. Watson during his city tour Oct. 26, said the province has recognized Hamilton’s special funding needs over the years.

“We have appreciated the Liberals providing the money and their recognition of the identifiable need,” he said. “Everybody is hoping they will keep upholding their share.”

But he dismissed the financial figures Mr. Watson presented, saying all municipalities received some funding from the province. Hamilton has gotten some special funding over the last few years, including money for the Randle Reef clean-up and the Lister Block purchase.

Social Services funding could dry up for City of Hamilton

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

The provincial minister of municipal affairs hinted Hamilton may not get its much-sought after special social services funding to plug its leaky financial holes in the city’s 2010 budget.

And city officials and politicians are starting to believe they also may not get the $16.5 million funding from the province either.

Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson said in an interview, the province is dealing with a $24 billion deficit and provincial leaders need to look at their own spending habits.

“(The funding) has to be on the table when looking at a $24 billion deficit,” said Mr. Watson, who talked to reporters after speaking to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce last week.

“Everybody realizes our ability to provide these kinds of top offs become even more challenging,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious the money has to come from somewhere. It’s pretty difficult to make one-off challenges.”

When asked if there is a possibility Hamilton would not receive the funding for the first time since 2003, Mr. Watson responded, “That is one of the possibilities.”

Hamilton officials and politicians are betting the city receives its annual social services funding. If the money doesn’t come through, politicians will then be facing a potential 8.4 per cent average tax increase, as opposed to a 5.4 per cent tax hike.

“If we don’t get (the funding), we will have to be more aggressive (in cutting the budget),” said Robert Rossini, general manager of finances and corporate services.

Since 2003, Hamilton has received a total of over $70 million in special social services funding. The province provided the city $16.5 million for this year’s budget, and $12.5 million in 2008. Both times Liberal officials, including local MPP Ted McMeekin, told city officials Hamilton would not receive further money. Mr. Watson said the decision will be made by the Dwight Duncan, minister of finance, possibly next March.

“Every year funding has been given to Hamilton,” he said. “Whether we will be able to top it up again, the finance minister will have to decide.”

Mr. Watson defended his government’s financial assistance to the city since the Liberals assumed power.

For instance, Hamilton not only received $16.5 million from the province, but an additional $15 million this year from the provincial government taking over 50 per cent responsibility for Ontario Disability Supplement Program. The province will assume full responsibility for ODSP in 2011, and prisoner transportation and court services costs in 2011.

The province agreed to upload a number of services from municipalities’ financial shoulders that were downloaded from the province during the reign of the former Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government.

In addition, Mr. Watson, holding a graph, said the province has given Hamilton through various transfer payments close to $440 million in 2009.

“Hamilton will certainly benefit from the uploading,” he said.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who discussed the issue with Mr. Watson during his city tour Oct. 26, said the province has recognized Hamilton’s special funding needs over the years.

“We have appreciated the Liberals providing the money and their recognition of the identifiable need,” he said. “Everybody is hoping they will keep upholding their share.”

But he dismissed the financial figures Mr. Watson presented, saying all municipalities received some funding from the province. Hamilton has gotten some special funding over the last few years, including money for the Randle Reef clean-up and the Lister Block purchase.

Social Services funding could dry up for City of Hamilton

News Oct 30, 2009 Ancaster News

The provincial minister of municipal affairs hinted Hamilton may not get its much-sought after special social services funding to plug its leaky financial holes in the city’s 2010 budget.

And city officials and politicians are starting to believe they also may not get the $16.5 million funding from the province either.

Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson said in an interview, the province is dealing with a $24 billion deficit and provincial leaders need to look at their own spending habits.

“(The funding) has to be on the table when looking at a $24 billion deficit,” said Mr. Watson, who talked to reporters after speaking to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce last week.

“Everybody realizes our ability to provide these kinds of top offs become even more challenging,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious the money has to come from somewhere. It’s pretty difficult to make one-off challenges.”

When asked if there is a possibility Hamilton would not receive the funding for the first time since 2003, Mr. Watson responded, “That is one of the possibilities.”

Hamilton officials and politicians are betting the city receives its annual social services funding. If the money doesn’t come through, politicians will then be facing a potential 8.4 per cent average tax increase, as opposed to a 5.4 per cent tax hike.

“If we don’t get (the funding), we will have to be more aggressive (in cutting the budget),” said Robert Rossini, general manager of finances and corporate services.

Since 2003, Hamilton has received a total of over $70 million in special social services funding. The province provided the city $16.5 million for this year’s budget, and $12.5 million in 2008. Both times Liberal officials, including local MPP Ted McMeekin, told city officials Hamilton would not receive further money. Mr. Watson said the decision will be made by the Dwight Duncan, minister of finance, possibly next March.

“Every year funding has been given to Hamilton,” he said. “Whether we will be able to top it up again, the finance minister will have to decide.”

Mr. Watson defended his government’s financial assistance to the city since the Liberals assumed power.

For instance, Hamilton not only received $16.5 million from the province, but an additional $15 million this year from the provincial government taking over 50 per cent responsibility for Ontario Disability Supplement Program. The province will assume full responsibility for ODSP in 2011, and prisoner transportation and court services costs in 2011.

The province agreed to upload a number of services from municipalities’ financial shoulders that were downloaded from the province during the reign of the former Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government.

In addition, Mr. Watson, holding a graph, said the province has given Hamilton through various transfer payments close to $440 million in 2009.

“Hamilton will certainly benefit from the uploading,” he said.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who discussed the issue with Mr. Watson during his city tour Oct. 26, said the province has recognized Hamilton’s special funding needs over the years.

“We have appreciated the Liberals providing the money and their recognition of the identifiable need,” he said. “Everybody is hoping they will keep upholding their share.”

But he dismissed the financial figures Mr. Watson presented, saying all municipalities received some funding from the province. Hamilton has gotten some special funding over the last few years, including money for the Randle Reef clean-up and the Lister Block purchase.