Some Community Enhancement Grant (CEG) applications will receive nothing for the upcoming year after Prince Rupert City Council discussed the funding and forewarned of potential tax increases in 2023 at a regular meeting on Dec. 5.
“Each year council approves Community Enhancement Grants (CEG) to assist local organizations that are deemed by council to provide services to the community … Grants can be provided as ‘seed’ or start-up funding, for one-time projects, ongoing programs and services, and/or events and community promotion,” Corinne Bomben, chief financial officer for the city stated in a report.
“A one per cent tax increase is estimated to bring in approximately $200,000 in 2023. If council were to award all the requests of the repeat and new applicants, the tax increase required to finance community enhancement grants would amount to approximately 0.80 per cent. Adding in the funding by agreement/special conditions organizations, the tax
increase rises by 0.40 per cent for a total of 1.2 per cent,” Bomben detailed in her report to council.
Fifteen repeats and two new applicants had a combined request total of $253,668 for in-kind and cash requests, up from a 2021 disbursement of $93,600, not including Funding by Agreement/Special Condition requests. Some applicants more than tripled their requests over prior years, while others remained status quo.
“I know in Director Bomben’s report she does a good job of outlining the potential tax consequences of increases. And it’s as simple as if the money goes up, somebody’s got to pay for it,” Mayor Herb Pond said.
The total amount of funding requested by all CEG applicants combined with the funding by agreements is estimated at $1,886,000 (2022 $1,640,000). Within this total is an increase in the amount requested by existing applicants of approximately $136,000 (69 per cent more than funded in 2022) and near $24,000 in funding requested by new
applicants,” Bomben’s report stated.
The CFO said that just like the 2022 budget year, it is predicted the city’s operating fund will face funding challenges.
“There is minimal new taxation from new builds expected, along with potential federal grant in lieu losses and annual major industrial taxation reductions. This combined with anticipated cost increases due to inflation, results in an expected tax increase larger than that adopted in the 2022 budget. Capital projects continue to be financed through as many other sources of revenues as possible to mitigate fee and tax increases for ongoing infrastructure renewal.
Councillor Wade Niesh expressed his concerns with some of the funding requests and said it’s not that the organizations are not deserving of funding.
“It’s probably not going to be a wonderful year for our budget of 2023. And then we’ve got a lot of challenges with inflation and many other things on the horizon. Interest rates have risen, which affects us … And so, when I look at this whole group, it’s not that they’re not deserving I just feel that at this time, we’re not in the financial position to fund really any of these …”
By the end of the meeting discussion, it was decided Ecotrust Canada’s $30,000 cash request, up from $7,000 the year prior, be denied completely, alongside Prince Rupert Gymnastics’ $23,000 application, Prince Rupert Amateur Swim Club’s request of $35,267.71 and Kaien Island Trail Enhancement Society, which applied for $29,000 was also denied. None of the latter three organizations applied in 2022.
Prince Rupert Special Events applied for $50,000 cash and $12,0o0 in kind. This was up from $15,000 cash in 2021 and $12,000 in kind. They will receive $30,000 in cash and $12,000 in kind.
Counsellor Barry Cunningham said it was his understanding the increase was to cover the cost of a paid employee to plan the functions and with the end of COVID-19 restrictions, a far greater turnout is expected at events the whole community can participate in.
Evergreen Canada – CHSS will receive as requested $1,000 cash, plus $1,000 in kind; AFFNO will receive $1,000 in kind; National Aboriginal Day will receive half of their request $2,500 in kind; P.R. Arts Council $20,000 cash; Halloween Fest $6,000 in kind; Crime Stoppers $600 in kind; Fire Dept. Guns and Hoses Charity Game $1000 cash; Navy League $4,500 in kind; SkatingClub $1,600 in kind; Wildlife Shelter $6,000 cash; Seniors Centre $1,000 cash; Tourism Prince Rupert will receive $17,000 cash out of their $25,000 request.