FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new independent expert panel will study the community funding and equalization grant system in New Brunswick and make recommendations on how to improve it to the government.

Nora Kelly, a former longtime provincial civil servant and deputy minister, and Pierre-Marcel Desjardins, a Université de Moncton professor whose area of expertise is economics and local government, will conduct research and consult stakeholders on grant options.

“We have two extremely qualified and outstanding panelists who know how the local governance system and financing work,” said Local Government and Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain. “We need to look at the formula because modernizing our local governance system will result in changes to local boundaries, responsibilities, and taxation powers that will have an impact on the tax bases and funding requirements of communities.”

The work will be done in three phases from May until September. During the first phase, the panel will prepare background information on the history of funding arrangements in New Brunswick and the reasons why a revised formula is required. Stakeholders, such as municipal associations, will be consulted.

Then Desjardins and Kelly will develop options for a new unconditional grant funding mechanism and, finally, they will present recommendations for a new system of fiscal transfers to the government in September.

As a result of the panel’s work, amendments to the Community Funding Act are expected to be introduced in the legislative assembly this fall.

“Modernizing our local governance system is a major undertaking and the funding component is an important piece,” said Allain. “We will ensure we have the best plan possible that meets the needs of our communities.”

More information on local governance reform is available online.