LONDON, ONT. -- Rising costs and a shifting funding formula has created a budget bomb in 2022 for local municipalities that co-fund the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

On Wednesday, the Board of Health approved the 2021 budget for the health unit, including $762,182 of inflationary costs not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase will be shared by the City of London and Middlesex County.

“The city is looking at the full $640,000 increase (this year) which is going to be tough to swallow,” said city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the board of health.

City hall’s decision to freeze its annual contribution to the health unit at 2019 levels in the 2021 municipal budget— did not anticipate the inflationary increases to salaries and its move to CitiPlaza.

Meanwhile there’s worse financial news on the horizon.

The province has yet to extended funding to mitigate a change to the funding formula for health units that increases municipal responsibility from 25 percent to 30 percent.

“In 2022, if the province doesn’t come through with mitigation funding,” warned Thames Centre Deputy Mayor Kelly Elliott, “the city and county are looking at a (combined) $1.4 million out-of-pocket increase— and that goes on property taxes.”

The province will continue to cover all MLHU costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.