The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM)
Mr. Masi, could you tell me briefly about yourself
I was born and raised in Winnipeg. I lived there most of my life. I lived in Ottawa for a couple of years. I had worked for the provincial government for a number of years before I went to the AMM.
What is your current position at the Association of Manitoba Municipalities?
I am the Executive Director of the AMM. As Executive Director I report to the Board of Directors of the AMM. I am responsible for managing the staff and ensuring that the Board has the right information to make good decisions. I also deal with media from time to time. Overall, I am responsible for both the advocacy and the business side of the AMM.
When was the Association of Manitoba Municipalities created? And what are its main purpose and mission statement?
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities was formed officially in January 1999 when we amalgamated the Rural Association and the Urban Association, so now we are one association in Manitoba, which has been great for having a strong united voice for the municipalities with our provincial government. Our mission statement is to achieve a strong and effective local government in Manitoba. We do it both with our advocacy work and communications work with our members. On the business side, we provide our members with good products and services that they purchase at the lowest price possible and then, if we are profitable, we rebate the profits back to our members. We have 137 municipalities as members.
What is the main source of funding for the AMM?
We get about 20% of revenue from our membership fees. Smaller municipalities pay less and the bigger ones pay more. We make some money from events we put on, and also our magazine. 50% of our revenue comes from the trading company that provides insurance and products. We are trying to keep our fees relatively low and give our members good service so that we are not 100% funded by membership, but only 20 percent. In the past 16 years we have rebated $10.55 million dollars back to our members.
How does the AMM support rural economic development?
In the last year we have been involved with the rural economic development strategy that I co-chaired. One of the things that we did to provide support to our members was to work with practitioners, developing a good training program for them and encouraging and working with the government to provide a single window of programs for our member municipalities to access programs on economic development. We are trying to streamline our economic development programs into one agency. So, I think primarily we have been trying to provide our members with better data to look at economic development. We provide economic sessions on economic development. Also, we do a number of things to promote rural economic development and, hopefully, help our members bring investment to our communities.
Obviously, as with every other organization of this scale, you must be facing some challenges. What are they?
The AMM is trying to balance the needs of our larger members, the cities, with the smaller municipalities. Sometimes our members may feel that we are not doing enough for our small members. So far, we have been able to balance and provide a good voice for all our members.
Why did you decide to get involved with PLEDDG Project?
We have been involved with Nicaragua and San Salvador and we found that experience excellent. I think it is a big push for us. With so many Ukrainians in Manitoba we wanted to get involved with PLEDDDG Project. And a lot of our Board members are of Ukrainian origin. We wanted to reach out and try to help Ukrainian municipalities that are facing challenges, help them learn some things that we are going through. Our Board was very supportive of us getting involved in this. It is a good way for us to reach out to other parts of the world and share our experience.