Community groups receiving community grants or in-kind donations from the City of Prince Rupert may be asked to return money to the City if their activities result in a profit.
In the form of a motion at Tuesday evening’s council meeting, Councillor Kathy Bedard proposed the City adopt a policy to request a portion of up to 50 percent of the net profit or the amount of the grant for a project or event where entry fees are charged.
Councillor Bedard said the City of Prince Rupert is approached regularly to assist in project or event funding at which entry fees are charged.
“The City is responsible for the spending of tax dollars and therefore should adopt a policy to request a portion of the net profit or the amount of the grant,” her motion stated.
The motion passed, with Councillors Bedard, Ashley and Nelson Kinney in favour, and Councillors Gordon-Payne and Gina Garon opposed. Mayor Jack Mussallem said he supported the policy, even though he didn’t have to cast a vote.
Speaking to the motion, Councillor Ashley said, “we give money to groups for raising money and often for very good causes, but if we are looking at way of finding money, then this gives us a chance to get some money back to help other groups at the starting point.”
Opposing the motion, Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne wondered if only a small profit is made, and some of that is paid to the City, how will that impact groups.
“What does a community group do if it eats away at things so significantly that their efforts are not worth very much?” she asked. “If someone makes $4000 and has to return $2000, that’s a significant amount.”
Mayor Jack Mussallem said groups may ask for further consideration as a payback could be daunting.
“It wouldn’t be the first time a policy was put in place and an appeal was made for reconsideration,” he suggested.
Councillor Bedard described the intent of the policy as a way to address the struggle City Council has in trying to make community groups accountable.
“They’re spending taxpayer’s dollars that people pay us to run the business and when we make a decision to support another group outside of our mandate, we should ask them to be accountable to us as well,” she said.
“It’s like asking for a budget or report of expenditures from any group that we fund. We’ve also had policies that we should be sitting on each board. That’s back to the accountability for the taxpayer’s dollars. That’s all I’m asking. It’s a policy and it’s there for people to consider when they make decisions,” Councillor Bedard added.
Mayor Jack Mussallem told council he thought everyone’s heart was in the right place and it all comes down to how council wants to support community groups and to what extent.
“We’ll have to wait and see how practical the policy is and whether it works,” he added.