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DSSAB approves 2.8% budget hike

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The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board approved its 2019 annual budget of $23.61 million at its regular board meeting held Feb. 21.

The overall budget reflects an increase of roughly $189,000 to the municipal share, or a 4.24 percent increase.

Overall, the budget increase is roughly 2.78 percent, or $660,000, predominately due to previously-negotiated wage settlements and a change in assessment values across the district.

The 2019 approved budget is reflected below:

  • Ontario Works—$2.81 million (down from $2.95 million in 2018);
  • Children's Services—$5.53 million (up from $4.70 million in 2018);
  • Emergency Medical Services—$7.79 million (up from $7.62 million in 2018);
  • Social Housing—$5.99 million (down from $7.03 million in 2018); and
  • Central Administration—$1.49 million (up from $0.65 million in 2018)

The total budget is $23.61 million, up from $22.95 million in 2018.

The 2019 budget includes capital expenditures totalling about $859,525 for siding/insulation on social housing family units, generators for seniors' housing, HVAC replacement and repairs, furnaces in housing units, an ambulance with a powerload stretcher system, and a new paramedic response unit.

These projects are funded through restricted reserves and amortization, and do not directly impact the municipal share.

“The continued work across the district to support and maintain our current programs is paramount,” said RRDSSAB board chair Debbie Ewald, who also is mayor of Rainy River.

“Only by working with our staff, management, and municipalities can we continue to ensure the sustainability and continued benefits of our programs to our residents and visitors in our district,” she noted.

The board is unified in its continuing efforts to lobby government for equitable and sustainable programs at a similar cost as experienced by taxpayers in other areas of the province, Ewald added.

“Board representatives will be attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario [AMO] annual conference in Ottawa this year to continue briefing ministers on issues facing the Rainy River District,” she pledged.

"These sessions will build on issues introduced in January at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association [ROMA].

“The opportunity to meet directly with ministers and their senior staff to showcase our concerns and priorities for our district are instrumental in ensuring appropriate funding and good public policy that meets our needs,” Ewald stressed.

During 2019, the local DSSAB will be focused on completing an updated Housing & Homelessness Plan, an updated Children's Services Plan, and implementing a direct delivery model for Children's Services,.

It also will continue work on a long-term housing strategy with a focus on affordable and supported housing services.

Overall, the 2019 approved budget was decreased by $81,000 from the 2018 approved budget. This primarily was due to the completion of the affordable housing eight-plex build in Fort Frances, which represented a $1.1 million expenditure.

The increase on the municipal share primarily is due to various cost-sharing formulas between the province and DSSAB within each programs.

Ontario Works decreased $140,000, primarily due to a restructuring of central administration costs.

Children's Services experienced an increase of $83,000 relative to additional 100 percent provincial funding representing the province's continued focus on Early ON and improving access to quality child care.

Land Ambulance increased by $175,000, representing general economic increases.

Social Housing expenditures decreased by $1.04 million for 2019 primarily due to the completion of the new eight-plex complex, River Ridge Apartments, under the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) Program and a change in Central Administration allocations.

“The combined efforts of the staff, management, and board are required to ensure continued provincial support our district programs, to seek additional funding, equitable access, and further funding formula improvements,” said RRDSSAB CAO Dan McCormick.

“We appreciate the face-to-face meetings that minister Greg Rickford has provided us to hear our concerns and remedies to specific issues facing our region and the north,” he added.

"We applaud the government's commitment to eliminate red tape to further reduce costs and streamline processes, which in the end will benefit all.

“As everyone realizes, there is always lots of work that goes on behind the scenes,” McCormick added.

“I would like to take this time to recognize the dedication and hard work that our staff and management provide to ensure the best possible programs for our district.”

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