Windsor urges province to cover $25-million in unfunded expenses

AM800-NEWS-QUEENS-PARK-ISTOCK

The province is being urged to provide funding in the 2022 Ontario Budget to help the City of Windsor cover $25-million in unfunded costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens pressed the needed for the funding Friday during a pre-budget presentation to Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.

The extra expenses include losses associated with the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Windsor Airport, Transit Windsor and revenue losses and expenses associated with COVID-19 restrictions. 

Dilkens stressed that if they had to cover the expenses through the property tax base, it would be equal to a 6.5 per cent property tax increase.

"To offset a $25-million deficit, you are either issuing debt, you are cutting $25-million of road and sewer projects from your Capital Budget or your increasing taxes. At a time like this, non of those options are particularly palatable," he says.

Under provincial law, municipalities are not allowed to run a deficit.

Dilkens says they need support from the federal and provincial governments to offset these deficits.

"We own an international airport, we are the only ones that own an international border crossing and, like many cities, we run a transit system that is operating with 70 per cent less revenue and 70 per cent less passengers," says Dilkens.

He says they have done a lot of work to cut expenses and control costs.

"There are a number of things that are way beyond our control and the burden should not be on the backs and shoulders of the taxpayers of the City of Windsor," says Dilkens.

In September 2020, the federal government reached an agreement with the Ontario government on the Safe Restart Agreement, which helped fund municipal, social services and transit operating pressures associated with COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-December, City Council approved the 2022 Municipal Budget with a 1.86 per cent tax increase.