After an in-depth discussion at a special meeting of Smiths Falls town council’s Committee of the Whole on Feb. 21, councillors have agreed for the most part to endorse the 2017 community grants recommended by a committee of staff.
Based on an amount equal to one per cent of all revenue collected in municipal taxes, the town has a budget of $130,000 to award to eligible community projects in 2017. Faced with the reality that increasing the municipal grant for any one group amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul, councillors expressed satisfaction with most of the amounts presented by the staff committee.
A few areas of concern drew councillors’ attention during the Feb. 21 meeting. A recommendation to award $26,600 to the Smiths Falls and District Aquatic Recreation Centre pool led to an even split between councillors in favour and opposed to the grant, and council will be waiting for further information before making a final decision.
Although the Smiths Falls and District Club for Youth requested a grant of $15,000 in 2017, Manager of Community Services Art Manhire explained that the staff evaluation committee reduced the amount to $5,000 because information provided with the club’s application stated that the organization had $10,000 in reserves.
Councillors also questioned a staff decision not to award any funds to Smiths Falls and District Crime Stoppers. The group’s request for $6,500 was rejected on the grounds that it didn’t meet eligibility requirements. Council was advised that Crime Stoppers will be saving some expenses going forward because the town no longer charges licence fees for lotteries. Crime Stoppers has also located some alternative sources of revenue.
A large proportion of the 2017 community grants, $50,000, will be going to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario. This drew some criticism from Councillor Jay Brennan, who noted that staff at the Heritage House Museum were reduced following a service review, leaving that museum to do more with less.
Remaining grants to be awarded by the town in 2017 are as follows:
- Healthy Living Festival – $9,000;
- Rideau Paddlefest – $4,000;
- Smiths Falls Gordon Pipe Band – $2,500;
- Together Smiths Falls – $5,800;
- Rideau Environmental Action League – $6,000;
- Lanark County Transportation – $8,486;
- Big Brothers Big Sisters – $2,000; and
- Smiths Falls Horticultural Society – $600.