Dollars for the rainy days

Cranbrook City Council keeps on with contingency funding

Arne Petryshen

Cranbrook city council stayed the course on how contingency funding is doled out. At a number of previous meetings, mayor and council had debated how the city body should apportion the funding.

Council decided to continue to endorse the principal which the council of 2011 adopted after its review of the contingency fund.

The guiding principal of it was: Council contingency is a modest fund established to enable council, at its discretion and in open public meeting, to allocate financial support to initiatives of municipal interest that cannot be reasonably anticipated during the normal budgeting process.

Coun. Ron Popoff said council had discussed the alternative recommendation, which were listed in bullet points.

“I think the general thought was we would have these bullet points in our minds as something will come to us for consideration,” Popoff said.

“But because council has complete discretion, we didn’t want to build anything in to be ascribed. So we should keep in mind what is mentioned here in the alternative and not necessarily, in my opinion, incorporate them into the actual policy.”

The alternative recommendation would have added the more stringent guidelines for allocation of the funds.

In the alternative the support funding would: be supplementary to other funding; represent not more than 10 per cent of overall direct funding required; not exceed $500 unless of exceptional nature; be provided to city residents or groups whose membership is primarily city residents or taxpayers; assist initiatives of a prominent nature in the best interests of the community; not be provided to individuals or groups to support initiatives which council deems to be political in nature; not be provided to initiatives already considered during the normal budget process.

Coun. Isaac Hockley did note that the $500 maximum of the alternative resolution would have been a concern to him.

“This day and age it’s a little low, you can’t really go that far on $500.”

City staff wrote in the report: “Council Contingency fund was established to provide council with a modest, otherwise unallocated source of funds within the current year operating budget that council, at its own discretion and in open public meeting, may allocate to requests or projects that could not reasonably be anticipated during the budgeting process.”

City staff noted that the fund permits a budgeted support to requests, as opposed to a “waiver of fees”, essentially unbudgeted support and simply reduces the revenues that would otherwise be realized. Service programs like Leisure Services have revenue targets established through the budget process and the waiving of fees places undue hardship on the revenue centre. Choosing to support a request by allocation of funds from council contingency will draw on a legitimate budget source and reasonably support revenue targets of the business centre.