The City of Port Alberni is planning to be more diligent in its spending for the 2017-2021 five-year financial plan, according to city councillor Sharie Minions.
Minions feels that this council, and the last few, have been too willing to give to good causes, which has created a culture where groups feel comfortable asking the city for funds.
“We end up getting highly criticized for the small amounts we spend,” said Minions. “Usually it’s money that’s not budgeted for this. We want to be firmer, in making sure that people are going through the proper process.”
The many “small amounts” that go to support community groups all add up, said Minions. Council is simply looking for a more controlled way of spending.
This involves going through the city’s Community Investment Program (CIP), which provides assistance to not-for-profit organizations.
“We want to make sure everybody’s going through the same process,” said Minions. “Rather than providing funding sometimes here, and sometimes there.”
This isn’t a discussion that council has had directly, but it’s one that has come up a number of times. Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society came to city council at a July 11 meeting last year for funding to help produce an educational video for victims of crime.
The council originally voted the request down, with the argument that they can’t give money away to groups coming from outside the process.
“But we do that all the time,” Minions argued. “In fact, the argument can be made that we’ve set the precedent the other way.”
Minions made a motion at a July 25 council meeting to further discuss the funding request, which was eventually carried.
“That’s where the conversation started,” said Minions.
City council held their first budget meeting on Wednesday, but there are still two more on the agenda. A review of the 2017-2021 financial plan will take place on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m., and a town hall public budget meeting will take place on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings take place at city hall and are open to the public.