Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee
©Jim Day/The Guardian
A new revenue-sharing model and a new multi-purpose arena are two of the issues Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee plans to tackle in 2016.
And there's a good chance there will be traction on both.
In terms of revenue sharing, provincial Finance Minister Allen Roach said in June consultations with municipalities will be held "to establish a stable and predictable funding system''.
It's something that could be reflected as early as the province's 2016 budget address.
It's an issue Lee has been pressing hard on for years.
The City of Charlottetown almost hiked taxes five per cent in its March budget until the premier wrote the city a cheque to help with extra snow clearing costs.
It boils down to the revenue-sharing model the province has been using since 2008, where it collects property tax for the city, but doesn't give all of that money back.
Lee says when it comes to finances, municipalities need to be able to plan long term.
"The current grant system doesn't work and has been a failure since day one. We have every expectation that will be a thing of the past,'' Lee said, although he quickly adds it will likely won't come in time for the city's budget address.
But a short-term fix is needed.
Charlottetown wants more dollars in 2016 than it got this year.
Lee says the current system robs the city of at least $2 million per year "and this corporation cannot afford that kind of loss any longer''.
As for the new arena, don't expect ground to break on a new complex, but the process to get to that stage should begin in 2016.
City council has agreed to appoint a task force early in the new year to look at a new multi-use facility that would eventually replace the Eastlink Centre that was built for the Canada Winter Games in 1991.
That task force will include representation from the provincial and federal governments.
"The mandate of the task force will be to look at what the needs are going forward. It can't be (just) another hockey rink. It needs to be a multi-use facility,'' Lee said.
Other stakeholders will have to be included, such as the horsemen's association and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which may be looking for space to expand its Red Shores facility.
It will likely be built where the provincial government garage is now on Riverside Drive.
Lee added it might make sense to look at one facility with three or four ice surfaces and one ice plant rather than three buildings with three ice plants.
"I am not going to prejudge (what a new complex would include) but I am going to be asking the task force to look at everything.''
A report will ultimately be presented identifying what needs to be built, who the funding partners are and what the capital costs are.
The process will likely take a couple of years.
In the meantime, Lee said the city has financial commitments it needs to worry, such as completing its new water source.
Top 5 things on mayor's 2016 list:
1 Reach short-term revenue-sharing financial agreement with province
2 Appoint task force that will put plan together for new multi-purpose arena
3 Have new water source in Miltonvale online by end of year
4 Wrap up storm water/sanitary water separation project
5 Continue installing water meters in residential homes