January 08, 2015 - 2:29 PM
PENTICTON - Grant discussions highlighted Penticton city council’s desire to reduce perennial grant requests at Wednesday's budget meeting.
Council began the day with a list of grant requests totalling $791,876. Their goal was to whittle away $121,870 of that in order to get the budget on track with the budgeted amount of $670,000. By meeting's end, council fell shy of the mark, eliminating $92,196 from the grant list.
Social needs, economic growth and a desire to reduce dependence on city coffers appeared to be guiding councillors in their decisions regarding the funding requests. Councillor Judy Sentes noted many of the grant requests were “tied to social issues” while Councillor Campbell Watt and Max Picton expressed interest in supporting requests that provided economic spinoffs to Penticton. At the same time they noted organizations needed to be "weaned off cash asks from the city".
Council’s stinginess was based on a new grants policy that took several years to create, gaining council approval in 2014. Under the new policy, grant assistance will have a maximum duration of three years on a declining basis without re-application. The grant amount will decrease by one third each year, to run out completely by the fourth year.
Examples of council’s decisions included Red Cross Help Depot’s request for $5,000, which was cut to $2,500 before finding council acceptance. Councillors Helena Konanz and Max Picton expressed concerns about the request returning to council year after year.
Several organizations were denied entirely, including such groups as the Pinnacles Football Club request for $47,180 and the Apex Ski Club's request for $15,000.
The Penticton and Area Access Centre, was granted its full ask of $4,300, as was the DARE BC Society's $2,000 request, and the Penticton District Arts Council's $12,310.
The revised allocation for grant requests for the 2015 budget is now proposed at $699,674, increasing the budget deficit by $29,674. If council decides to pay for this shortfall through taxation, it would translate into a 1.29 per cent tax increase for Penticton residents.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015