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Town council addresses rumours of pool funding mismanagement

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance
njamieson@tabertimes.com

There have been rumours going around about the use of pool funds that the Town of Vauxhall wishes to address.

Council took a moment to address some troubling rumours that the Friends of the Pool Society and administration have been hearing about misdirected funds for the pool, during the society’s delegation in Vauxhall town council’s regular April 18 meeting.

“I heard this rumour three times since we (FotP society secretary Valerie Mattice and I) talked abut it this morning,” said Cris Burns, CAO for Vauxhall. “One was an item of the previous skate park money, that was given to the town towards a new pool.
“I’ve heard the one about the skate park money for a year now, but it’s actually really blown out of proportion the last day and half.”

The skate park money was money raised originally for a town skate park. However, when motivation lagged, it was willingly donated towards a new pool. The motion for using the skate park money for the pool was passed in August 2014, when council approved sending the money towards the pool reserves, for the new swimming pool.

“That motion read, ‘A resolution 13-266, moved by councillor Sorensen to transfer reserve funds of $8,973.82 for the skate park to the pool reserves’.”

Another rumour going around was that donators coming to the town office to get a receipt, worried that the money they donated is going towards the town’s committed $200,000 for the pool.

“Anybody’s donated funds are their donated funds,” said Mindy Dunphy, office manager for the town. “It doesn’t come out of the town’s money that the town had committed.”

The town’s funds for the pool are under a separate code to donated funds. However, since the skate park money was given directly to the town, it is included in the town’s $200,000. That is where, according to the society, there is some confusion.

“That’s how we understood it,” said Tammy Turner, FotP society member, referring to he second rumour. “So all the donations that come in now are above the $200,000. They are not just less that the town is going to put in.”

Council acknowledged, especially with the big grant they just got, that people might be a little iffy on their accounting.

“You do the math, the total project costs, and you look at the grants, ant the donations and the committed funds, probably exceed the total project costs,” said Richard Phillips, Vauxhall town councillor. “The math doesn’t work out in a very good way now, because it appears then money that has been raised exceeds the total project costs, so then the issue becomes, who is going to pay less?”

Council plans on using the most they have out of their grants, but one scenario is that since both the town and the Municipal District of Taber have both committed $200,000 for the pool, one or both may pay a little less then their committed amount, although they were “both happy to commit to the project”.

“We are not going to go and tell our contractor we want to pay extra for this, because we have more money then it takes.”
“We are pretty close to what we have, if we did absolutely everything anyways,” said Mattice. “It might work out, that’s what I’m thinking.”

“And we will have our fence and our grass and our tables, and it will be completed,” added Turner.

The town will need money for operating the pool, so even if they are over by a little bit, the money could still go towards the pool. In any event, council will be waiting until the last bill is paid before they decide what happens to any extra money.

“I guess we would just like the misconceptions to stop,” said Dunphy. “Because we’re kind of working together. It’s a little bit frustrating on our side, because we feel we’re working well with you guys, and sometimes we feel we don’t understand where this is coming from. Because we are accountable for everything that comes into this community. We are audited, we can’t do anything wrong.”

“We’re the same way. We want to be communicated to, so there is the understanding and there aren’t these misunderstandings,” said Shauna Wiest, FotP society member.

“If anyone hears a rumour, bringing t to which ever group needs to hear it,” said Margaret Plumtree, Vauxhall mayor. “In the end, this is all for the community. We all will benefit from it. It is not a financial boon for anyone, it’s an asset for all of us.”

The society also inquired about their account. Currently, they have a float of $5,000, and every time they hand it over to the town, and want to know if they should stop doing that. The float was in place to help with fundraising efforts, since sometimes it would cost money to raise money. The money the society contributed did not go towards the town’s commitment.

During the beginning stages of pool construction, since fundraising had just started, the town had to rely a lot on the society to help pay bills.

“Every time we had to write to write a check, we were hoping for the pool, for you guys, to pay the bills,” said Plumtree.
Before fundraising for the pool, the society has focused on supplying toys and life jackets.

“That was the goal of our society,” explained Wiest, adding that they aren’t going to stop contributing, but stop doing so many fundraisers. “And then, when we didn’t have a pool, we changed our goal to help the building of it. But now that the building is going to be done, then do we go back to our originally plan.”

Council wants all the bills to be paid beforehand, and they don’t know how much a few final items would come to. But once that is done, the society could go back to their original focus.

“Once when the final bill is paid, then we know we got it covered,” said Plumtree, adding they were keeping track of the money given. “Then all that money can be yours, for doing what you need.”

The last bill will be paid for in July, and if there is some money left over, the town would explore its options then, especially if the M.D. does not want money back, and could always purchase smaller items for the pool. Council did make a new motion to bump up the society’s float to $10,000, to ensure they have money for Canada Day festivities.

“We have a good relationship, and we want to keep a good (relationship),” said Burns, of the FotP society and town. “We don’t want rumours causing difficulty between us.”

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