Cuts to district grants for community groups prompted council to refer this year’s budget back to the committee level for further deliberation.
At its last meeting, council was asked to adopt the 2014-18 financial plan as presented. But Couns. Fred Busch, Suzanne Carpenter and Charlotte Hutchinson said they could not support the related bylaw, as they weren’t satisfied with grants in aid allotted to community groups. Subsequently, the budget was referred back to the district’s select finance committee, where it took shape.
Because of a library board meeting and a pre-scheduled vacation, Busch said he was unable to attend the two committee meetings where grants were discussed. With the budget as presented, he said council wasn’t being socially responsible to the community.
“The chairman of the select committee says… that we are in a bad position, there are many people unemployed and businesses are closing, and I feel that we are simply not helping people, making it impossible for them to stay in our community,” said Busch. “So on that basis, I will be voting against this budget.”
Carpenter agreed, adding she was told there could be a one-per-cent tax increase if council continues as it has with the provision of grants.
“Well, we voted in $3,000 for councillors for non-sanctioned trips,” said Carpenter. “We could maybe take that money and put it towards grants in aid rather than non-sanctioned trips.”
Couns. Joan Thomson and Don Richardson disagreed, stating the committee spent a long time going through the budget.
“And nobody was really cut,” said Richardson. “Everybody was decreased… to come up with the best prudent proposal possible. So I think this budget is well set up. I’m fully in favour of supporting it.”
Hutchinson was onboard with Carpenter, stating she would give up her $3,000, and part of her salary to “support these much-deserving groups.”
Coun. Terry Rysz, acting as deputy mayor, noted he chairs the finance committee, which made decisions based on what it felt was correct at the time.
“And yes, it might not be perfect, but we did cut back on grants in aid, but at the same time we didn’t completely eliminate grants in aid,” said Rysz.