Perth councillors bat grants to others around the horseshoe

Perth council will see three options to consider as they work to find a formula that works to reduce the grants to others ahead of the 2025 budget deliberations. Photo credit: Submitted.
Posted on: June 11, 2024

Councillors in Perth are looking to chop some funding from community grants. 

Before establishing their grants to others budget for 2025, council will have a look at some options. 

Coun. Jim Boldt would like to see comparisons with other municipalities as he said he feels they pay way too much – almost $247,000. Three of the grants are provided to organizations through a bylaw including to Tayside Community Options ($20,000), Senior Craft Fellowship ($5,000) and Perth Santa Parade ($1,500). The largest recipient is the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital at $98,000

“Based on what I see here the only thing I’d recommend is a friendly amendment,” Boldt said. “Compare the amount of money – either in a total dollar amount or a percentage of revenues – to all the other communities around us … we put out more than the County of Lanark, so I’d like that information to be gleaned through their recommendation.”

Coun. David Bird said they have talked about this process for a number of years. He said they should take this into consideration for the budget process and not “discuss the ins and outs of it now.”

Brian Burns, director of corporate services, said council had asked this topic come to council well ahead of budget to be considered in its entirety with a little more clarity. 

“We did actually consider the amendment (suggested by Boldt) and rejected the idea,” Burns said as there would be options to offer grants through different measures, like the mayor’s discretionary account, or through someone’s departmental budget. 

“If we tried to compare them, we wouldn’t be terribly successful at it,” Burns said. 

The grants to others budget is about 2.5 per cent of the tax revenues; one per cent is equal to $93,000. 

“Once a community organization gets a grant, there is probably a limited lifespan to that,” Burns suggested. “It’s probably not intended to finance that organization in perpetuity.”

If the grants decline over time to individual organizations, then that envelop would free up money which could be reallocated to other organizations, Burns said, at which point it could open it up for other organizations to apply.

“I like your approach,” Boldt said, “but we can’t change the bylaw. Let’s look at the rest and go from there.”

Coun. Gary Waterfield said a gradual reduction of grants over time should be looked at, as well as having a deeper look at those under bylaws.

“I would lean toward a combination of limiting grants to others to 2.5 per cent of property tax revenue reducing to two per cent over a five-year period,” Waterfield said. 

“So we’re looking at gradually reducing it, not reducing it overnight, but also looking at those organizations that are currently getting funding and having a mechanism in place whereby they cannot reapply so that we’re able to then fund some other worthwhile organizations.”

Although the 2.5 per cent tax hike for community grant coverage was never set, Burns suggested that council could do that to have a benchmark from which they can reduce the funding.

Boldt said if they’re going to achieve their financial goals, they’re going to have to look at the big picture, “and whether we’re funding a certain amount by bylaw or otherwise, the bottom line is the total number of dollars we’re spending.”

Staff was directed to bring back three options for council to consider to reduce the grants to others.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News