Local Government Finance, Infrastructure Top UBCM Priorities

Better research into local government finance and infrastructure advocacy highlighted a set of priorities for 2012-2013 reviewed by UBCM Executive at its inaugural meeting last Friday.

UBCM has appointed a Select Committee that will work with Dale Wall, former Deputy Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, to study the fit between the fiscal tools available to local governments and the services they provide.  The current tools - property taxes and user fees - stem from an era where local governments delivered a narrow range of services, such as water, sewer and local roads.  After several decades in which the types of services delivered by local government have grown, there is a need to consider whether there are better ways to finance some or all of these services.  The Select Committee has begun to meet and will report to the membership at UBCM's Convention in September.

Executive also committed to engage with the federal and provincial governments to ensure that local government interests are prominently featured in the federal government's Long-term Infrastructure Plan.  UBCM will continue to work closely with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on this file while also engaging with both levels of government on matters specifically concerning infrastructure funding in BC.  A high priority in UBCM's advocacy is to ensure that the transition to a permanent Gas Tax Fund will remain focused on local government infrastructure.  Based on member feedback, UBCM is also looking for a funding escalator and a broadening of the eligible project categories. A further level of outreach to BC MPs is expected early in 2013.

The list of 2012 – 2013 external priorities was rounded out with goals to develop a robust advocacy strategy for the 2013 provincial election and improve coordination with the BC Mayor's Caucus.

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