December 04, 2013

Town to set limit on community grants

As published in The Erin Advocate

Town Council plans to set a firm limit on the amount of grant money it will provide to local community organizations each year.

After a review of the grant policy by Finance Director Sharon Marshall, council voted to set a limit at its first budget meeting next year, but the amount has not been determined.

A committee, which could be the whole council, will also study ideas for grant criteria and categories, but this would not take effect until 2015 since applications are already coming in based on the current criteria.

Grants to local groups totaled $50,325 in 2013, while grants to Town committees were $53,012. Compared to total Town expenditures of $12,538,196 this year, the two types of grants together represent less than one per cent of the budget (0.824%).

Currently council considers each application on its merits and allocates various amounts with an approximate target total. Current eligibility requires that applicants be a non-profit, charitable or youth group, with a formal structure, providing benefits to Town residents. Town committees are considered separately and are not covered by the Financial Assistance Policy.

Future criteria could include more on the nature of the community programs and services. Supported events could be required to be within the Town. There could be categories with different criteria, and there could be different limits for start-up grants versus on-going support.

Organizations that have been funded for many years could be given priority as a core group. Council could also set a dollar limit on how much could be granted through waiving user fees for Town facilities.

The list of 2013 allocations shows how much was requested and how much was granted. For example, Community Living requested $23,000 for its new ARC Industries building, and was given that amount. The Orton Community Association requested $75,000 for a new park, but was given $2,000.

Examples of other grants include $1,000 for Big Brothers - Big Sisters, $1,000 for the Erin Agricultural Society, $500 for the Lions’ Santa Claus Parade, $15,675 for the East Wellington Community Services seniors room, $500 for Transition Erin and $2,300 for snow clearing at the Hillsburgh Medical Centre.

Town committees: The Erin Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the Let’s Get Hillsburgh Growing group each got $6,500. Others include the Ballinafad Community Centre - $23,437, the Equine Task Force - $8,000, the Heritage Committee - $2,000, the Environment Committee - $2,000 and the COPS Committee - $2,000.