Monday, December 22, 2014

Council changes Community Enhancement Grant Formula for 2015, with further review on the process to come in May.

Wednesday night was presentation night for Prince Rupert City Council, with the five largest Community Enhancement Grant Applicants providing an overview of their organizations and the work they do and outlining the blue print of their year ahead.

For the first hour and a bit of Wednesday's meeting, council heard from the Prince Rupert/Port Edward Economic Development Corporation, Prince Rupert Library, Prince Rupert Tourism, Lester Centre of the Arts and Museum of Northern British Columbia.

Each offering up a glimpse of some of the service that their organizations provide to the community, as well as an overview as to some of their particular ongoing concerns.

Following those presentations, Council received a report from the City's Financial Office Corinne Bomben who outlined the options ahead for Council when it comes to Funding for 2015. (see Page Three  of Agenda for Report  overview )

Towards the discussion on the night, Ms. Bomben provided an overview of a proposed change to the process that the Finance Department was recommending, which would see the City approve grants based on a funding formula that provides for a 65/35 split.

With the five main grant recipients receiving 65 per cent of their funding in January, while the remaining 35 percent would be provided after Council reviews its Budget situation in the Spring

Ms. Bomben presented the case for that split, outlining how Council's Budget process works and making note that by holding back on the 35 percent until May, Council could have options to consider other than program or service cuts as the Budget numbers become more firm during the process.

Three different scenarios were offered up to Council for consideration.

Approve the grants at the 100 percent amount requested.

Approve the Grants at percentages recommended by the Finance Department.

Advise some or all of the Grant recipients that Grant Funding for 2015 will be reduced by a percentage deemed by Council.

With those three suggestions at hand, Council engaged in discussion on the topic, with Councillor Mirau outlining his concerns that without the 100 per cent funding of January, the five large Grant recipients which as he put it, were more or less delegated by the City to provide some core municipal functions, would need to have some certainty to their funding.

Council members went back and forth over that concept, as well as to try to re-work the formula to better provide for some funding security, as well as to address issues related to more stable funding for the core group of Grant recipients.

The City Manager offered an option for Council to consider, once they had moved on the motion of the Grant Funding of 2015, suggesting that a report from City staff could provide direction for future years, which might provide for more certainty for the groups as well as accountability for the taxpayer.

From that shift in the conversation, the Mayor called for the vote on the motion to accept the 65/25 split and to move on the City Manager's recommendation for the report before the Budget process is considered in May.

Councillor Cunningham added an amendment to the motion, outlining how if any groups require any further funding before May, that they could approach Council to address the issue.

Council then voted on the motion, putting in place the 65/35 split, with Councillor Cunningham's amendment to go with it.

Staff will now put together a report on the issue of future funding, with City Manager Robert Long to seek out more information from the Grant recipients as to what would work best for them as far as a longer term of funding, providing that as part of the overall review for Council to consider towards the spring.

The overall goal of the proposal it would seem is to provide for a foundation for future years, to provide more certainty for the groups and reduce the impact on the City's budget process.

You can review more on the entire discussion from our City Council Timeline here, it runs from the one minute mark to the 2 hour fifty minute point.

As well, the entire conversation can be reviewed from the City Council Video Archive.

The Enhancement Grants get their review starting with the Presentations from the one minute to on hour fifty minute mark. The listing of presentations is as follows:

( 1:00 -- 6:30 ) Paul Vendittelli -- Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation

6:30 -- 29:00 ) Ms. Crystal Lorette and a delegation from the Lester Centre of the Arts (the Mayor excused himself from this presentation citing a conflict of interest, owing to the fact that at this time he is technically still a member of the Board. Mayor returned to his seat as Mayor following the presentation)

29:00-- 46:00) Joe Zelwietro and a group from the Prince Rupert Library

46:00 -- 1:28:00 ) Scott Farwell and a delegation representing Tourism Prince Rupert

1:28:00 -- 1:50:00 ) Susan Marsden and a representatives from the Museum of Northern British Columbia

Council discusses the Report and reviews its options, starting from the 1 hour fifty minute mark and continuing on towards the two hour seventeen minute point.

For more items related to City Council see our Discussion points archive here.

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