There is no new infusion of funding for cash-strapped municipalities in Ontario's pandemic budget. But some Simcoe County mayors are encouraged by what they see.
The province is reducing the tax rate businesses have to pay toward education. The PC spending plan also gives municipalities the ability to create a new tax category and tax small businesses at a lower rate than big ones.
Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke likes the idea but says the devil may be in the details.
"It sounds like a meaningful economic recovery assistance program," Clarke says.
"If they're going to help cover some of those costs for a municipality, that's much more meaningful. If they're not going to, then we'd have to transfer those costs to other taxpayers in our community, and I think that probably wouldn't serve much of a purpose for the rest of those taxpayers."
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman shares Clarke's concerns about merely shifting the tax burden from business owners to homeowners.
Lehman is surprised that there isn't more funding for public health agencies and worries that may mean municipalities are left to cover the extra cost of battling COVID-19.
The province is standing by a $3.2 million pledge to build a new transit hub in Barrie. Transit agencies across Ontario had previously been promised $2 billion to help with cleaning during the pandemic.