Council adopts policy dealing with community funding requests 0
Coun. Outi Kite
City council drafted a policy to partner with private organizations for municipal services or capital projects to deal with groups coming forward with cap in hand.
As society becomes more urban and there are increased expectations from ratepayers but ratepayers not wanting to pay more in taxes, the city has to find a balance, Norma MacQuarrie, chief administrative officer for the city told council at its regular meeting June 25.
Decreased transfer payments from other level of governments added to the mix makes the need for clear guidelines essential, she added.
The Community Builder Partnership Policy would support council contributing 25% of project costs of proposed project costs. The policy would also require projects be ready to put shovel to ground.
This will ensure they are able to complete the project and not come back after the fact requesting more money, said MacQuarrie.
"It's well overdue," said Coun. Ian Foster.
Coun.Reuben Konnik agreed saying, "It's a good step going forward."
Foster questioned the policy's requirement for the city to contribute $50,000 annually to accrue in a Community Builder Partnership Reserve Fund.
MacQuarrie said $50,000 is manageable and if the city contributes more it may have tax implications to ratepayers.
The $50,000 will also demonstrate to the community that the city doesn't have unlimited funds unless we entertain tax increases, added MacQuarrie.
Coun. Outi Kite requested this policy be drafted by administration after the skate park and athletic park groups kept coming back to council asking for funding.
"This will set some kind of limit and let people know that this is what we can fund and support," said Kite.
"We are not an endless, bottomless pit for whatever shortfall they might experience," she added.
But Coun. Peter Bouwsema had concerns about the policy.
"I see this policy as extremely challenging for most community organizations," he said.
Lacombe wouldn't have the skate park and athletic park if this policy was in place a few years ago, said Bouwsema.
Requiring groups to be in existence for three years and can only come "once to the well" is way too challenging, added Bouwsema.
Coun. Kite said the last three years the city has had large funding requests from groups.
"We can't sustain that kind of funding," said Kite. "We need a clear guide of what the city can do and they can plan their projects accordingly."
Coun. Ian Foster said the policy doesn't cast anything in stone and is simply a starting point.
"I see this as a somewhat rubbery document," said Foster.
Coun. Konnik said the policy is needed and added that if it's rubbery and becomes discretionary then don't have a policy.
"This is a vitally important document," said Konnik.
Mayor Steve Christie defended Coun. Foster saying he thinks Foster was referring to how the city worked with both the skate park and athletic park groups with their projects and that's how the policy would be rubbery.
Mayor Christie said the city wants to work with these groups and if they know what the city's criteria is, the groups may work harder.
The policy could also eliminate the growing pains the city experienced with the skate park and athletic park committees, said Christie.
"Our relations weren't always good but they are now," he said.
Mayor Christie added that the policy has "teeth" which enables council to "separate the wheat from the chaff."
Council passed the policy with Councilors Grant Creasey and Reuben Konnik voting against them.