Grants over $5,000 come in $65,475 under budget, excess transfered to reserve

(Gazette file photo)

Councillors turn down opportunity to go back to community

for second intake




County council is poised to save an unspent $65,475 allocated for community grants in its 2019 budget in a reserve fund to address unexpected expenditures.

At last Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, councillors learned The County Foundation had only recommended spending $171,400 of a budgeted $237,145 to meet requests for nine cash requests and two in-kind requests made under the program for municipal grants over $5,000.

A report from the County’s grants and special projects co-ordinator Emily Cowan suggested the community development department would put out an open call starting next month for applications to use that grant money as well as $20,000 designated for projects combatting food insecurity.

Ameliasburgh councillor Bill McMahon said “it’s no secret” the grants are available, so seeing the initial application undersubscribed, he questioned whether the money could be put elsewhere.

Director of community development and strategic initiatives Neil Carbone indicated the previous council moved away from councillors moving away from adjudicating grants themselves to move away from the perception the process was not fair, objective, or well adjudicated. He indicated the partnership with The County Foundation (TCF) was working well to meet that directive and said if council wished, it could direct staff to wait until late in the year for the second intake.

Janice Maynard, also of Ameliasburgh, made motion to place the money in the County’s tax rate stabilization reserve , which she noted has been used to fund unexpected expenses previously.

“For quite a few years, we’ve had this granting process. It’s steadily climbed and necessarily so. We just went through a process where we have put this out and it’s been well advertised. All the players are pretty well aware of what’s going in,” she said. “We’ve fulfilled our commitments, for now, to the community. The tax rate-stabilization fund is a good place to put this. There’s always an emergency, something will come up.”

Hillier’s Ernie Margetson, who seconded the motion asked if a second intake is typical.

“When we have extra money, are we just trying to get rid of it?”

Carbone told council it isn’t normal. Two years ago, he said council did offer a second intake of the grants under $5,000 process, but then the process with TCF was new and some applicants were uncertain about the application process. He said he couldn’t recall a time when a second intake was offered because all the money hadn’t been spent.

North Marysburgh’s Stewart Bailey wondered if those who had already received grant money could ask for more.

Carbone said he believed the County had a policy that prohibited groups from receiving two grants, but said a second intake would make it clear who could apply.

Bailey expressed concern.

“There are some very smart people who are very aggressive at getting grants. I can see duplication, perhaps, coming up if more money is available.”

Carbone also reassured him council must approve grants, so there is a system of checks in place.

With Maynard’s motion passing, Picton councillor Kate MacNaughton attempted to have another $10,000 from that $65,745 surplus added to the funds designated for food insecurity.

Athol’s Jamie Forrester said he was willing to leave the money as is and if more funds were requested through the process, council could turn to the tax rate stabilization reserve.

After a 6-6 committee vote, MacNaughton’s bid was deemed unsuccessful.

A TCF committee, consisting of Maureen Adams, Helen Findlay, Sandra Grandson, Michael McLeod, Juri Varangu, Tony Walton, and Jefferson Gilbert, adjudicated and recommended a series of grants be allocated, pending council approval which could come March 26.

The allocations are as follows…

– 99.3 County FM is to receive $6,100 to pay for half the cost of a tower rental; n The Community Development Council Quinte will receive $10,000 for costs associated with the Good Food Box and Good Baby Box programs;

– Food To Share will receive $23,000 to assist with kitchen rental, equipment, packaging and groceries and $2,200 of in-kind support for an off-peak rental of the Crystal Palace;

– Heal with Horses will receive $17,000 to expand equine therapy programs for seniors;

– The Prince Edward County Arts Council will receive $17,000 to offset programming, operating and staffing expenses and $3,000 of in-kind support;

– Reaching for Rainbows will receive $15,000 for programming, operating and spending with the caveat that it be used this program year and not placed in a reserve fund the organization is building;

– The Recreation Outreach Centre will receive $50,000 for programming, operating, staffing and program expansion; n The Regent Theatre Foundation will receive $30,000 for programming, operations, and staffing;

– Volunteer and Information Quinte will receive $5,100 for its operations in the county.

Two applicants were not recommended for grants over $5,000. The adjudication committee felt the group Friends of Community Schools could not deliver the camps it wished to see funded as no local partnerships were made clear and the majority of the board of directors was from outside the county. The PEC Affordable Housing Network was also excluded from the granting process because the adjudication committee felt it was best handled by the PEC Affordable Housing Corporation.

Bloomfield-Hallowell councillor Brad Nieman questioned whether the volunteer-driven radio station should have also been on the excluded list.

“The last couple times they came, I think two or three years ago, they came and said it would be the last time they’d come, they wouldn’t be asking for any more money. Last year, they were turned down. They’re here again this year. I’d like to see that be removed because they came two to three times saying ’We don’t need any more money, we’re good. Every year since, they’ve come back and asked for more money.”

Committee took no action on Nieman’s request.