City divvies up scarce grant dollars
MY Mountain Co-op is not on the list to get a $15,000 city grant but a Terrace Little Theatre request for $4,200 has made the cut so far.
The two items are on a list making up the sum total of requests by community groups and service providers and city council tonight begins the job of picking who gets money and who does not as it works toward completing the city’s 2012 budget.
Despite budgeting more than $1.1 million for community groups and service providers, there isn’t enough for all.
“This is where our budget discussions become the most difficult,” said mayor Dave Pernarowski.
“All of these organizations desperately need the assistance to help make our community a better place to live.”
The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine will also take part in this round of budget talks as it shares a portion of costs for some groups and services.
There are two budget sections under which council pays out money to groups: community grants budgeted at $80,000 and fees for service budgeted at just more than $1 million.
A balanced 2012 draft budget, created by city staff as a baseline for council, shows a need to reject almost $70,000 in community grant requests.
“The discussion will be about finding creative ways to help these organizations to the best of our abilities without increasing taxes past the proposed 2.5 per cent,” said Pernarowski.
Grant requests came in at $151,132 this year and staff recommended a budget of $79,555, $3,000 less than in 2011’s final budget.
Grants applied for that weren’t recommended by city staff include: money for a venue for Caledonia Senior Secondary’s dry prom at $1,427; $5,000 for a Terrace Downtown Improvement Area festival; $1,000 to operate the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen; $15,000 for My Mountain Co-op; $6,000 in rent assistance for the Northern Health Authority addiction program; $5,000 to the Kermodei Friendship Society; $4,100 to the Green Thumb Garden Society; $8,000 to the K’san House Society; and $6,700 for a new dance floor at the R.E.M. Lee Theatre.
While the city might not give grant money directly to some, other types of financial help the city contributes were considered by staff during recommendations.
For example, My Mountain Co-op pays $1 yearly in rent for its office in the city-owned Kwinitsa building, valued at $6,000 yearly.
The Ksan House society receives $12,757 yearly in property tax exemptions for its buildings.
The Bread of Life Soup Kitchen receives $1,288 in tax exemptions.
Tax incentives and decreased rent in city buildings are offered to many that didn’t apply for grants as well.
This is all money the city doesn’t collect and therefore can’t spend elsewhere.
Staff recommended that Terrace Little Theatre Society get $4,200 because it missed the deadline to apply for a property tax exemption.
For some, city staff have recommended only a portion of what’s been requested as a grant. Terrace Search and Rescue asked for $23,850 and staff have recommended $9,000 which is what was granted last year.
Volunteer Terrace asked for $7,500 and $4,500 has been recommended, on par with 2011.
Community grant asks came in $44,832 more than was asked for last year, and even last year’s asks were substantially greater than usual.
A loss of gaming grants which are allocated by the province added to increased requests for money to the city last year.
“This will become even more difficult over the next few years as the Provincial government also must find ways to hold the line on spending,” said Pernarowski.
For services administered on behalf of the city, more than $1 million was requested and the same amount was recommended by staff.
That number increased $21,000 from last year.
Seven different services are paid for by the city, including flower basket care; tourism promotion handled by Kermodei Tourism, litter clean up contracted to Provincial Networking; George Little House, a centre for tourism, heritage and the arts; a Terrace heritage site, the Terrace Museum Society; the Terrace Public Library; and Terrace’s Economic Development Authority.
Provincial networking asked for $4,500 more to account for minimum wage increases.
The Terrace Museum Society asked for an increase of $6,400 for operating expenses. This cost is shared by the RDSK.
Terrace’s Public Library asked for an increase of $14,640 to cover union wage increases, this cost is shared by the RDKS.
TEDA and the Kermodei Tourism Society did not ask for increases for 2012.
The contractor who looks after the city’s flowers has asked for the same amount as last year – $22,500 – but will reduce services offered for that price due to increasing costs.
A final budget will be approved by council this spring.