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Fundy Regional Service Commission Rejects Budget

By Brad Perry Oct 21, 2022 | 5:45 AM

The Fundy Regional Service Commission is pushing back against downloaded costs from the province.

On Wednesday, commission members unanimously rejected the commission’s 2023 budget.

Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Brittany Merrifield, who chairs the commission, said they were not comfortable with several budget issues.

“The capital costs, the new downloaded costs from the provincial government which aren’t considered to be fully funded,” Merrifield said in a phone interview after the meeting.

One of the biggest concerns relates to how municipalities outside of Saint John will fund city-owned regional facilities going forward.

For more than 20 years, Quispamsis, Rothesay and Grand Bay-Westfield have supported operating costs for five facilities through the Greater Saint John Regional Facilities Act.

Saint John has been solely responsible for capital costs associated with the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre, Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Saint John Arts Centre, Imperial Theatre, and TD Station.

However, as part of the province’s local governance reform process, outlying municipalities will each be on the hook to help cover capital expenditures.

The budget proposed for 2023 would see municipalities paying a combined $3.4 million for operational costs and nearly $1.5 million for capital costs.

“Our goal was to strive to build a consensus on a 2023 budget we could all accept, but that didn’t end up being the case,” said Merrifield.

RELATED: Quispamsis Councillors Frustrated Over Facility Cost-Sharing

The commission did approve a motion from Quispamsis Mayor Libby O’Hara asking the city to submit data about recent capital investment along with projections for upcoming capital expenditures.

Merrifield said the commission is also concerned about the lack of information they have received throughout the process, and the lack of power of each municipality in the course of developing the budget.

Even though commission members flatly rejected the proposed budget, it may still be approved at the end of the day. That is because Local Government and Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain has the final say.

“By rejecting the budget, we’re certainly rejecting the downloaded costs that are coming from the province to the municipalities. Municipalities are the level of government that are least able to afford these provincial services and it’s important that that feedback go back to the minister,” said Merrifield.


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