CDSSAB struggle continues…
his past week, Timmins mayor Steve Black proposed yet another version of the CDSSAB funding apportionment formula in hopes of saving the city nearly $2 million. Kapuskasing mayor and CDSSAB chair, Alan Spacek (above), shared his thoughts on the matter with The Times this week.
Len Gillis with files from Kevin Anderson
The continuing issues regarding the funding apportionment formula for the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) are once again on the front burner of communities within the organization’s catchment area.
At its meeting last Monday, Timmins’ city council agreed to resume making payments to the CDSSAB in order to allow Queen’s Park to take on a mediation role between Timmins and other member communities if necessary.
Timmins is also proposing a new funding formula that it says will benefit more communities along with giving Timmins a $1.1-million refund.
This follows a report tabled at Monday night’s council meeting by David Landers, the city’s new chief administrative officer. The report included a recommendation to attempt a reconciliation with CDSSAB in a bid to win a more favourable funding model.
The issue goes back more than a year when it was revealed by Mayor Steve Black that Timmins was contributing to the CDSSAB based on a weighted assessment formula. The organization is funded by a dozen municipalities across the Cochrane District, with Timmins paying the largest share.
Timmins was using roughly 51% of the CDSSAB services, but paying 63% of the bill.
Black argued that Timmins was paying roughly $2 million too much, when compared to the payments from the smaller communities. Black was seeking to have Timmins pay on a per-capita funding model, based on population only.
The smaller communities argued they didn’t have the revenue to afford higher payments. Timmins lost out on the double-majority vote required to approve the funding model. The double majority means that Timmins would need a vote of support from the majority of the population represented, as well as a majority vote from the member communities.
Based on population, the Timmins vote was sufficient to win the population majority, but Timmins did not get the seven votes required to win over the individual communities.
In response, Mayor Black submitted other proposals to try to bring down the level of the Timmins CDSSAB payment, but his ideas were rejected throughout early 2016.
Last summer, in a bid to pressure Queen’s Park to get involved, Timmins city council voted to withhold funding payments to CDSSAB in 2017 if no agreement was reached. When the New Year arrived and no new deal was in place, Timmins was holding firm with no payments to CDSSAB.
The idea was not approved by CDSSAB past vice-chairman and city councillor Joe Campbell, who had been trying to negotiate a settlement between Timmins and the CDSSAB board. That did not happen.
This latest move toward a settlement follows a series of meetings held with provincial ministries in the past week or so, Landers told council.
“And so there is a recommendation that council reinstate the DSSAB payments and support a new funding proposal to be brought back to the DSSAB at the next available meeting,” he explained.
Black said Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) indicated it would prefer to see the dispute resolved at the CDSSAB board level.
If that is not successful by May 1, 2017, the ministry said it would step in to provide mediation.
“However, that mediation is non-binding mediation. And anything that results from it would still needs to go through the double majority vote,” said Black.
But he said Timmins has a new formula that just might win enough votes to resolve the impasse.
“The new funding model is kind of in the spirit of what was has been said that bigger cities should help out smaller cities,” said Black.
Under the new model, Black said each municipality would be charged their basic cost of their services to the CDSSAB.
After that he said, “A reduction factor would be applied” to the municipalities based on the size of the population. The first level would be for communities smaller than 2,000 persons. Next would be communities with populations between 2,001 and 4,500.
Black said the bigger municipalities would pick up the cost of the reduction from the smaller municipalities. He said this formula would see a cost reduction for nine of the municipalities including Timmins.
The three largest communities after Timmins — being Kapuskasing, Hearst and Cochrane — would share the cost burden for the smaller communities.
Timmins would see a savings $1.1 million.
Cochrane would pay roughly $336,000 more; Hearst would pay $438,000 more and Kapuskasing would pay $1,181,800 more. All the other communities would get money back.
Black said he is hoping that the majority of communities will buy into the benefit and vote in favour of the new formula.
The vote to resume payments to CDSSAB as a sign of good faith was passed unanimously.
Despite several attempts by the City of Timmins to change the funding formula, Kapuskasing Mayor and CDSSAB Chair, Alan Spacek, has always maintained the same position on the matter.
“Across the province, the amount a community contributes to its DSSAB is based on the value of its assessment, its taxation. That method was chosen because it is the best measure of community’s ability to pay,” Spacek told The Times in 2016.
Spacek spoke to The Times about the subject again last week.
“Through discussions with the Ministry, I did receive a letter that offers to facilitate, by way of funding, a mediation process with the board,” he explained. “(The Ministry) would appoint a mediator, who would come up and try to come to some solution.
“I got indications from the majority of the board that while this may prove very helpful, they all feel its important the province be involved as part of the mediation process, so it’s not just a mediation between us as communities, but rather a process between us as communities and that the province be involved in the discussion because we operate under a funding formula created by the province and under provincial legislation.
“It’s a valid point to ask: How you can have a major discussion without a major stakeholder being there?
“The province has made it clear they will facilitate, but will not take part. So, we have to wait and see now what decision of the board will be with regards to whether or not we take the province up on its offer.”
A CDSSAB meeting is scheduled for today (Thursday).