By J.W. Schnarr
A reduction in funding to a local group which handles the Jets Baseball Stadium resulted in quick action by the Municipal District of Taber council to restore that funding, and could change the way council handles grant requests to M.D. council.
During their regular meeting on Dec. 15, Vauxhall council heard about an issue involving the society which had resulted in an $11,000 reduction to the town from an M.D. recreation grant and a direct payment by the M.D. to the society of that same $11,000. During discussion, Coun. Christie Sorensen said members of the M.D. council had been angered by situation with the society.
“The M.D. is really mad that the Jets Stadium Society grant was cut from $21,000 down to $10,000,” said Sorensen. She said an issue with some paperwork is a major cause of the problem, which resulted in a reduction in funding.
“The way I understand it is that next year’s grant will be cut by $11,000. They gave it to the stadium, and they gave $3,000 to the (Vauxhall Academy of Baseball) to pay their rent.”
“So instead of giving us the academy’s (grant funding for dispersal), they have taken it out,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree.
“Next year, we will still have less than (the expected amount) to give everyone the amount they should be getting,” said Sorensen.
The M.D. of Taber routinely hands funding out to municipalities located within its boundary, as it is understood rural residents often come in to nearby towns and villages to make use of various programs and facilities. The recreation grant for Vauxhall would have amounted to $129,400, including funding to assist with the running of the arena, curling rink, ball diamonds, community hall, and other facilities. The reduction in funding to the town would bring the amount closer to $120,000, according to Sorensen, after all of the changes have been taken into account.
Coun. Martin Kondor said he felt the way the M.D. recreation grant has been paid out in the past has been unfair to the M.D., as estimating takes place.
“I think if we give them hard numbers on what it costs to run the rink, the hall, the pool, exact hard numbers, (it would be more fair to them).”
Sorensen and Kondor both pointed out that this was not a case of M.D. council trying to force their wishes onto another council through a reduction in funding, but that the current system of estimating how funding is divided among facilities needs to be addressed so funding obligations can be better met.
“They’re not dictating how we do it,” said Sorensen. “But things were done the same way for however many years, and now they keep changing.”
“They’re trying to help us out with all our facilities,” said Kondor. “If we give them hard numbers for what it takes to run all our facilities, we might get even more money.”
“They’re not asking for us to get their approval on how to do it, but it has to make sense,” added Sorensen.
Chief Administrative Officer Cris Burns said M.D. council was well within their rights to request funding amounts go do the facilities of their choice, as it is their money to spend how they see fit. He noted that has generally not happened in the past, however.
“When they give the town a grant, they didn’t specify where they wanted any percentages,” he said. “So if they specify where they want to see it go to, it’s their grant, and without using the word ‘dictate’, they can dictate that. But it was never done.”
“If they state how they want it spent, then we have to spend it that way,” agreed Plumtree.
“They can’t dictate to you where you put your money,” said Burns. “But they can dictate where you put their money.”
Public information regarding Vauxhall preliminary budget deliberations was removed from the council agenda package provided to The Advance.