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Funds flow from feds

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The City of Dauphin will share in the $106 million flowing to Manitoba municipalities as part of the federal Safe Restart Agreement.
The city will receive $501,050.11 under a per capita formula which will see municipalities receive direct payments totalling $72.6 million.
“Currently it’s not earmarked for anything. It will go into the general operating fund and most likely we will record most of that as a surplus for 2020,” said city manager Sharla Griffiths, adding the surplus will be directed to the general reserve fund for use in the future.
“We don’t know the long lasting effects of COVID on the economy and on our operations. So specifically in 2020, we don’t require that money to be spent on anything and we do not want to spend it frivolously. So we will be saving it for future projects or future operating, something to make sure that we have a bit of a safety net in the coming years.”
That approach fits with city council’s philosophy of a no frills fiscal year when it passed the current operating budget this past spring.
“I think the prudent and the right thing to do right now is to save it and see when we really need it,” Griffiths said, adding the money came as somewhat of a surprise.
“I had read a couple articles from other cities in Canada talking about federal funds that were allocated for municipalities. So I did ask the province just out of curiosity. They basically said give us about a week or 10 days and it’ll be coming out. And sure enough here it is.”
The remaining $33.4 million will be allocated for public transit in the five Manitoba municipalities with eligible public transit systems. The formula for this allocation is being finalized and will consider factors such as ridership, as well as projected losses compared to pre-COVID levels.
“Manitoba municipalities have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance,” said Municipal Relations Minister Rochelle Squires.
“These funds from the Safe Restart Agreement between Manitoba and the federal government will help our municipalities continue to deliver the services Manitobans rely on.
“Our government is committed to working collaboratively with our municipal partners. Together, we can protect Manitobans while working toward a strong recovery from the effects of this pandemic.”
Funding from the Safe Restart Agreement between Manitoba and Canada is in addition to previously announced provincial funding to support municipalities as they deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19, Squires said, adding the Manitoba government responded to municipal needs quickly by advancing $129.45 million in flexible operating grants to municipalities in May and a further $43.15 million in September.
In total, Manitoba has delivered operational support of over $500 million for a range of municipal services, programming, systemic capacity, and necessary prevention and resiliency measures.