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Stratford mayor not thrilled with new revenue model, but wants to move forward anyway

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy, left, and Deputy Mayor Randy Cooper were at Stratford Town Hall on Dec. 5 following a special council meeting where council gave approval to a new revenue sharing model with the province.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Stratford Mayor David Dunphy, left, and Deputy Mayor Randy Cooper were at Stratford Town Hall on Dec. 5 following a special council meeting where council gave approval to a new revenue sharing model with the province. ©THE GUARDIAN - Katie Smith

Stratford’s mayor isn’t thrilled about a revenue sharing deal struck with the municipality and the province, but he is looking ahead rather than behind.

David Dunphy and council passed a motion at a special council meeting on Tuesday in support of the revenue sharing model, as per the province’s new Municipal Government Act that will come into affect upon proclamation later this year.

When Stratford was amalgamated in 1995, the province transferred tax room in the amount of 20 cents per $100 of assessment (based on property taxes).

In 2008, the province repealed the tax room transfer and replaced it with the Municipal Support Grant.

Stratford, along with other municipalities, negotiated a new Revenue Sharing Agreement with the province to replace that support grant, which was the motion council passed on Tuesday. 

Effective back to April 1, 2017, until March 30, 2022, the rate will be 13.1 cents per $100 of assessment.

“It’s not ideal for Stratford,” Dunphy told The Guardian following the meeting. “We’re being penalized for our growth, but it is what it is. We want to move forward with the province, and at least we’ll be able to get revenue on the growth in Stratford, which we haven’t seen in 10 years.
“We’re moving forward. Onwards and upwards,” said the mayor, referring to the 10 years as “difficult”.

Deputy Mayor Randy Cooper, who chairs the finance and technology committee, said striking this agreement has been a long process.

“It’s been months, years of negotiating to get where we are today. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it approach,” he said, adding there’s been “significant loss” of potential revenue in the amount of almost $3 million to Stratford since 2008.

“That’s sidewalks, that’s services, affordable housing, transit – all those things that we do here in Stratford that costs money, it’s really significant,” he said. “But anyhow, this is the best we could do with all the communities that got together to talk about this model.”

Cooper said the grant that began in 2008, when Stratford’s population was around 6,500 residents, has not increased, even though today the population is around 10,000 residents.

“We’re losing all that revenue because it’s not a formula, they turned it into a grant,” he said. “It’s been bad for other communities, but it’s been really bad for Stratford.”

As the population grows, so, too, will Stratford’s assessment, Cooper said.

“So, we’ll get more money based upon that,” he said, adding there’s no sense looking in the past.

“We don’t look back, we now look forward.”

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