M.D. of Smoky River: MSI cuts a big concern

Robert Brochu, Reeve, M.D. of Smoky River

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The M.D. of Smoky River reeve says the municipality could face challenges with reduced funding in the provincial budget announced Feb. 25.

Cuts to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative [MSI] program to support capital and operating expenses is a major issue for Smoky River.

“Council’s greatest concern regarding the budget is the 25 per cent reduction in MSI funding over the next three years,” Reeve Robert Brochu says.

“Reduced dollars from MSI funding could affect programs and services throughout the municipality.”

Smoky River council suggests a way to improve the MSI program.

“Council would have liked to see a different formula in the new MSI program for funding based on ‘need’ rather than on assessment,” Brochu says.

He says Smoky River council has informed Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen about its issues and concerns about the budget.

“MLA Todd Loewen is well aware of our concerns and continues to be very helpful as our liaison between our municipality and the provincial government,” says Brochu.

Funding cuts to MSI are scheduled to start in 2022.

Smoky River welcomes news that the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program [STIP] to support local road and bridge networks will continue.

We are happy to see a slight increase in STIP funding in the provincial budget,” Brochu says.

However, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta is concerned about the future of the program.

“The budget maintains STIP funding at existing levels for 2021-22, but forecasts a reduction in future years, which could have additional impacts on rural municipal transportation networks,” president Paul McLauchlin says in a news statement Feb. 26.

Overall, the Smoky River council didn’t see many surprises for municipalities in the budget.

“Council’s reaction to the provincial budget was neutral as it was approximately what we expected,” Brochu says.

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