Parksville budget requests reconsidered

Councillor says policy was bypassed during budget deliberations

The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Island Tidal Treasures Society both survived a challenge to their inclusion in the City of Parksville’s 2018 draft budget during a re-vote called during council’s regular meeting Monday. But the Parksville Museum will have to wait to see whether its funding request is restored.

Coun. Sue Powell asked for reconsideration of each of the groups’ inclusion in the budget, saying council ignored its own policy bylaw when it approved the funding during its Oct. 30 budget deliberation meeting.

“We have a policy in place that stipulates there’s a whole procedure when people come before council, when organizations come to council to request money in our budget,” said Powell, who was absent during the budget deliberations due to illness. “These were granted without looking through the lens of this policy.”

Her motion to reconsider the funding requests was seconded by Coun. Teresa Patterson, who also was absent during the Oct. 30 budget deliberations.

The chamber of commerce requested an increase of $7,500 to its stipend to organize and run the city’s annual Canada Day celebration, which would bring its total to $10,000 for the 2018 event.

Joe Straka of Tidal Treasures appeared as a delegation Oct. 30 to request $3,000 in annual financial support.

Coun. Leanne Salter, council liaison to the Parksville Museum, previously submitted a request on behalf of the museum for $5,000 in operational funding for 2018.

Each of those requests was included in the preliminary 2018-2022 financial plan after spirited debate, which included an acknowledgement of the city policy cited by Powell Nov. 6.

The city policy bylaw requires groups and organizations requesting funding to provide: a brief history of the organization and its principal purpose and mandate; names and contact information for its board of directors or authorized representatives; its most recent consolidated financial statement with a listing of funding sources and grant applications in process; and a summary of the “anticipated direct or indirect benefit or financial assistance to the citizens of Parksville,” Powell read.

“I think it behooves us when working on the budget to have the taxpayer first and foremost,” said Powell.

Coun. Kirk Oates noted for the record that the policy had been discussed during the budget deliberation, and welcomed a fresh debate on the three items Powell requested for reconsideration.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to be singled out as the councillor who doesn’t care about taxpayers’ money and decisions made in the absence of others who do,” said Oates.

He went on to voice his support of the chamber funding to manage Canada Day festivities as “probably the biggest single-day event in the entire community.”

Powell agreed that Canada Day deserved support, but argued the chamber had not met the city’s policy. A re-vote carried 4-1, with Oates, Patterson, Mayor Marc Lefebvre and Coun. Mary Beil voting in favour and Powell voting against.

Coun. Kim Burden, the executive director of the chamber, recused himself from the discussion, as he had during the Oct. 30 budget deliberations, and Coun. Leanne Salter was absent.

Council then voted on the Tidal Treasures request, after Oates pointed out the society had provided the city with a brief outline satisfying most of the points in the policy bylaw, including a balance sheet from its financial report.

“I believe Tidal Treasures Society has provided the necessary documentation,” he said.

The vote to add the $3,000 for Tidal Treasures to the draft budget passed 5-1, with Powell opposed.

Beil then asked whether council could approve the museum’s $5,000 budget request contingent on directors supplying its financial statement.

Before it could go to a vote, Oates made a motion the museum funding be referred to the next budget deliberation Nov. 26, “in anticipation of Coun. Salter returning as liaison and bringing important information.”

Burden seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Before council moved on to its regular agenda, Powell requested the floor once more.

“I’d just like to clarify, if we have a policy and we don’t follow the policy, is a motion in order to delete the policy? Or how do we manage that?”

Debbie Comis, the city’s chief administrative officer, said that council is able to repeal a policy at any time.

“Policies are adopted by resolution,” she answered Powell. “They can be repealed by resolution, if that’s what council chooses.”

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