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The Independent Nov. 21, 2013 : Page 1

Vol. 1, Issue 12 Rural politicians face provincial funding cuts Heather Wright The Independent Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott says the province is shifting the wealth from rural municipalities to urban centers. Enniskillen and Dawn-Euphemia recently heard their Ontario Municipal Partner Fund grant – the main grant given to municipalities by the province – has been cut by nearly 15 percent. Dawn-Euphemia will lose $168,000 and Enniskillen’s grant was cut by $142,000. The province is in the process of reducing the funding it gives municipalities through OMPF. It took $50 million out of the budget in 2013 and another $50 million in 2014 as part of the effort to reduce the provincial deficit. So far, rural municipalities seem to be taking the hit. In Dawn-Euphemia, Mayor Bill Bilton says the township would have to raise taxes eight percent to cover the shortfall and that’s before looking at any other increases such as hydro rates and insurance premiums. And reducing the township by that much “then we’re cutting services,” he says. The situation is the same in Enniskillen. Marriott believes the township would have to raise taxes six percent just to cover Thursday, November 21, 2013 Lambton sugar beet growers finishing harvest under frost threat Heather Wright The Independent William Schenk was racing to beat the frost. The Wyoming area farmer is one of several Lambton County farmers who have a contract to grow sugar beets for Michigan Sugar. In all, about 10,000 acres of the turnip-looking plant are grown in Ontario – mainly in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent. Schenk has about 100 acres of beets. He says beets are high profit makers, but are susceptible to weather and fungus. The fungus he takes care of with added herbicide applications. The weather he can’t control. So on Monday, Schenk was working with an employee from his contracted harvester, John Noorloos, to get the last 50 acres of the beets out of the ground on his Wyoming area farm before a killing frost. The Lambton crop is stronger than Chatham-Kent’s this year. This area didn’t receive as much spring rain which can lead to a lower yield. But Schenk says they were hampered by last week’s snow. “Normally, beets are done by Nov. 15,” he says as the harvester dumps beets into the wagon Kathy Ehman Photo WHAT?? You might ask Inwood’s Chris Whitcroft if he’s a man or a muppet after his latest stunts filmed just for his 38,000 YouTube fans left him covered in mud. See more of his antics on page 6. the loss. But that, he says, is not likely to happen.” I don’t think the stomach is out there to raise taxes.” he says the township had to deal with a $50,000 cut last year. “We’re starting out …doing a budget for 2014 losing that much money from the province really puts you in a precarious situation.” The salt in the wound is that large area municipalities are either getting the same amount of money or are seeing their grants increase. Windsor will receive $3 million more, Sarnia gets an extra $1 million. Petrolia’s grant will stay the same. In its letter to the municipalities outlining the cuts, the province points out that Lambton County has also received an addition $16 million in provincial money to offset the cost of ambulance and social services. But both mayors say the municipalities cannot use any of that money to pay for roads or policing. “It’s obvious that the province has the intention to raise urban grants at the expense of rural,” says Marriott. “The province is shifting the wealth from the rural to the urban. “This almost feels like (Premier Kathleen) Wynne being like a teacher with a big stick, slapping you on the wrist saying ‘that’s what you get for not voting Liberal.’” behind his tractor. “Frost is hard on beets. Another frost and these beets would have been rejected.” That threat seems very real as pellets of snow hit the cabin of the tractor. The harvest was also slowed because of Sunday night’s rain. Schenk had planned to be on the field first thing Monday but instead had to wait until late afternoon so the ground could dry out enough for the heavy machinery to get onto the field. But Schenk is confident the work will be done. Heather Wright photo He planned to work through the William Schenk unloads about 30 tonnes of sugar beets on the side of his night until the crop is out of the Plympton-Wyoming field. Schenk and other Lambton sugar beet growers ground. were bringing in the last of their crop this week. 4219 Oil Heritage Road, Petrolia 519-882-1090 1-855-864-4962

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