CORNWALL, Ontario - In a razor-thin vote, the city’s budget committee has cut the amount of money it will spend on so-called outside agencies.
City councillors voted 6-4 to cap the outside agency spending at $500,000 – reducing the funding envelope by $61,000, or 12 per cent, based on what was spent last year.
Councillors Denis Carr, David Murphy, Denis Thibault, Maurice Dupelle, Andre Rivette and Glen Grant were successful in getting the motion approved while the balance of council voted against it.
Mayor Bob Kilger was absent from the budget meeting Friday morning.
Passions were running high on both sides of the issue.
“This is an opportunity to say we mean business,” said Murphy. “It’s an opportunity to show the overall public…that we are being fiscally responsible.”
But Coun. Bernadette Clement was having no part of it.
“These agencies do work that we need them to do – that we would have to do if they weren’t doing,” she said.
The funding cuts mean the following agencies will not receive municipal cash this year: Agape Centre ($60,000), CNIB ($12,000), Seaway Valley Theatre Company ($8,500), Mad Hatter Productions ($5,000), Beyond 21 ($30,000), and Parade of Nations ($12,000).
The following agencies will see their funding capped: The Art Gallery – Cornwall ($55,000), Seaway Seniors Citizens Club ($15,000), Centre Charles-Emile Claude ($15,000) and Groupe Renaissance Group ($5,000).
Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism ($181,000), SD and G Historical Society ($112,000), Aultsville Theatre ($97,000) and Centre Culturel de Cornwall ($16,000) will receive the same amount they did in 2012.
New spending for the Ontario Senior Games ($4,000) was approved by the budget committee.
The decision by the budget committee had councillors fractured over how to fund community groups, some who support seniors, and what the decision will ultimately mean.
Coun. Syd Gardiner suggested some senior groups, who have petitioned senior levels of government funding, would be negatively affected because that money was based on getting dollars out of city hall. He added some might fold.
But others said some outside groups have reserve funding they may be able to tap into.
“There are senior clubs in this community that don’t request funding and they operate quite effectively," said Coun. Glen Grant. “They’ll just have to do like we do…find different ways to do things.
"We have to worry about the impact of our decisions on the rest of this community. Maybe the people who belong to these clubs will have to dig a little deeper.”