PENTICTON - Penticton city council isn't enthusiastic about the idea of handing off the city’s municipal grants program to an outside enterprise.
Chief financial officer Colin Fisher has asked council to enter into an agreement with the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen in order to establish a City of Penticton Community Grants Fund. The foundation would provide administration of the portion of the city’s municipal grants program set aside for non-standing grant application from non-profit organizations.
The city has approximately $200,000 available for non-standing grants in 2016 out of a total grants budget of $600,000.
Fisher cited changes to the city’s municipal grants policy that have resulted in greater accountability and control to the city over grant applications as the driving force behind the request. He says the administration and scrutiny required of the more than 70 grant applications filed with the city each year had become a “large administrative task.”
An agreement with the Community Foundation would also include a two per cent administration fee. The city would continue to administer standing grants under the agreement. Non-standing grants would be managed by the foundation, Fisher said.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he was unwilling at this point to allow an outside entity to take responsibility for the city’s grant applications, noting many grants were important to many in the community and council needed to be “plugged in."
Coun. Judy Sentes said only council has the ability to grant flexibility, where certain conditions and sensitivities exist in the grant process. She said the concept of handing off grant funding was not new to council, personally expressing reluctance to allow grants to distributed at the sole discretion of the Community Foundation.
“I very much respect the fact that staff are looking for a way to ease some of the pain, because it is a difficult process, but I’ve been elected to take some of the pain, so I’m not willing to pass off this function of council to an outside body,” she said.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed called grant distribution a “responsibility we were elected for,” adding he undertook the task “very passionately.”
“On that note, I do have a problem delegating this responsibility to anyone else. It’s a decision making process that I take as a privilege, and I’m not willing to give it away,” he said.
Coun. Andre Martin noted the foundation currently administers close to one million dollars the city has entrusted to them.
“We do have some confidence in them,” he said, adding the idea behind having the foundation administer the non-standing grants was to make the system more efficient, in that grant applicants wouldn’t have to make multiple applications to source all grant funding available to them.
Council agreed to receive the staff report for information purposes, electing to complete next year’s budget requests before revisiting the matter early in the New Year.
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