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Council looking to define civic agencies

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council will receive a phase one report on best practices for civic agencies before the middle of 2020.

This came after a discussion on which civic agencies are receiving municipal funding and how these agencies are determined during the standing committee meeting on Feb. 25.

Deliberations for the 2020 budget were originally scheduled to continue at this week’s meeting, but because it wasn’t ready for council yet, they instead used the meeting to focus on the civic agencies item within the budget.

Outside agencies, non-profits, and organizations receive funding from the Town of Hinton each year to support operations, services, or agreements. 

Funding requests and allocations are considered on an individual basis, and were compiled into a grouping named “Civic Agencies” to allow Council to review the amounts during budget deliberations. 

There is no formal criteria for the allocation of these funds, but overall these groups provide or support services to the community. 

“[Our definition of civic agencies] seems to be a catch-all of everything”, said Coun. Albert Ostashek.

He said a problem with not having a set definition for civic agencies is that groups can come to council with requests and wind up in the civic agencies category with no dedicated funding.

Administration is then tasked with finding where the money is going to come from to support the ask council approved.

Ostashek stressed the importance of separating official town groups from outside organizations seeking funding.

While there wouldn’t be time to implement any changes in the current budget year, Council spoke in favour of reviewing the issue before next year’s budget.

Following some discussion, CAO Emily Olsen suggested bringing back an information report on what other communities are doing first.

Based on the next discussion with council, administration could then fine tune the report to include recommendations for a framework that would work for Hinton.

To avoid missing the mark on recommendations in a full report, Council agreed to take a phased report approach.

The total expense of these civic agencies in 2019 was $404,045 compared to $459,400 being requested in 2020, according to the report from administration.

Olsen clarified that roughly $88,000 will be transferred from reserves to cover the community grant program, instead of the $120,000 as the report states. 

The amended number is based on 30 per cent of the net revenue from the ATE program, which won’t cover the community grant program in 2020.

Agencies included are the Chamber of Commerce, the Airport, the Hinton Mountain Bike Association, the Foothills Recreation Management Association, the Hinton Historical Society, the Hinton Performing Arts Society (PATH), the Fohn Festival, the grant program, donations, STARS, and Youth Council Scholarships.

A number of additional requests were received from currently-funded civic agencies, new requests, an increase for the Airport Agreement due to a one-time capital project, and a decrease for the Hinton Performing Arts Society (PATH) were all identified in the report.

As well, the Chamber of Commerce may also be bringing forward a request for additional funds in the 2020 budget.

Changes in 2020 include an increase of $47,200 for the Hinton Historical Society, and a decrease of $27,300 for the Hinton Performing Arts Society, stated the report.

Olsen added that a new request from the Hinton Employment and Learning Place (HELP) was adjusted after the report was released from $40,000 to $10,000 due to the federal funding they recently received.

Another new request included $35,000 for the Disc Golf Society, which is not an annual request as it is a one-time capital project.

Committee recommended a phase one report with information on best practices of civic agencies to come back to council for further discussion before the end of the second quarter this year.