Community groups made to suffer

If you erode the community organizations and the good works they do, you are well on the way to destroying the town, from the inside out.

Re: Editorial, ‘Cynicism among the Electorate,” in the March 26 EVN.

The $14,000 for administration and council to attend FCM in Niagara Falls may seem like a torrential cost, but it is actually a drop in the bucket compared to questionable expenditures.

Just check out some of the comments from interviewed councillors in the EVN of March 12. Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson speaks of the “chaos that ensues when the council, in its wisdom, fires the CAO immediately and the byproduct was a mass exodus of key staff.’ Hutchinson states that the community paid dearly for the time and monetary cost lost because of this decision. Conservative estimates of payouts to terminate the last administrator, and the administrator in the 2005-2008 term are over $400,000. In addition, the current administrator’s actions in replacing key staffing  positions in the last two years amount to additional tens of thousands of dollars.

As Coun. Suzanne Carpenter stated, “I have been very frustrated with the workings of our district.”

In light of this exorbitant spending, it is hard to take council’s pleas of poverty to groups requesting grants-in-aid seriously. One councillor even suggested that we certainly can have anything we want; council will just have to raise our taxes. The reality is that, not only do these groups rely on these grants just for bare minimum operations, but also matching grants become available, conditional on the awarding of these grants from the district.  No wonder representatives of these community groups are in shock over being denied the relatively paltry amounts they have requested.

The big question that citizens would like answered is, ‘What has changed?’ Council supported these groups in the past; taxes have not dropped, etc.  Where has the money gone that has usually been allocated to these very worthwhile community groups?  Grants make up less than one per cent of the total annual municipal budget.  Please tell us what has changed with our tax money, so that in order to continue to assist these groups, you must raise our taxes?

With every new council term, we hear of plans to turn the economy around, bring in industry, trim costs, etc. What we get, however, is disturbing and appalling – unnecessary spending at the cost of stripping the local community service groups of much needed resources.

Volunteers who have given so much to the community, in organizations such as the seniors groups, the Eagle Valley Community Support Society, the Royal Canadian Legion, and The Eagle Valley Arts Council, have been treated like adversaries, and those who depend on their services are suffering.

The core of a small community is its citizens, volunteers, and the community groups they form out of necessity, not a half dozen elected officials and some municipal staff.   If you erode the community organizations and the good works they do, you are well on the way to destroying the town, from the inside out.




John Schlosar