Facing requests larger than the township’s budget for supporting community groups, Wellesley councillors scaled back on their contributions.
Deliberating the issue Tuesday night, council allocated just shy of $9,000 to a dozen organizations, paring back much larger requests. Two of the groups alone asked for $10,000 – the Wilmot Family Resource Centre and Woolwich Community Services were each looking for $5,000, for instance.
The $9,000 accounts for most of the $10,450 in donation money council allocated in the budget.
This year’s requests easily surpassed the budgeted amount.
Ward 1 Coun. Shelley Wagner questioned the compromise made in trying to provide funds to such a large range of recipients. She suggested there might be a more effective way to support the groups who needed it most.
“This doesn’t address some of the people that came in and spoke to us in regards to their requests. I have sat and looked at this quite a while. … There is money that we can move within what we have been donating and allocate it better to serve the community,” she said. “I believe part of the request from the parades was that we help pay for the bands. I think that money can help the people in our community that need counselling, that need support. I would look too at the Wellesley North Easthope Agricultural Society, whether they would need that amount.”
Her colleagues were in agreement, with Coun. Carl Smit suggesting the township put together a policy outlining donation criteria.
“We should be aware that it has got to satisfy all the residents in the townships. If it doesn’t serve everyone then I don’t think we should be giving anything,” he said. “I just don’t want anything to slip through the cracks.”
Coun. Peter van der Maas wondered if there was value in going a bit over budget to lend a helping hand.
“What is stopping us from going over? When I am looking at some of these services that are being offered in the township, which is growing in size as we are growing in need, so it seems to make sense to me that we would contribute more,” he said.
The solution seemed to be asking for requests to come in before budget negotiations, something staff was already looking into.
Township treasurer Theresa Bisch warned against limiting applications. As of now, anyone can put in a request for money, however it is up to council to say who gets how much.
“There is never a guarantee that they are going to get the money. I think you want to be very careful on that. Sometimes council chooses to support something like the Fort McMurray wildfires,” she cautioned. “I just don’t want to see you tie your hands.”
There was general agreement that staff should still look into crafting some sort of policy to guide township donations.
“We are going to have another look at the way these applications come in for budget 2017,” said Mayor Joe Nowak. “Any substantial increase will be right in front of us on the table.”
The motion for $8,955.62 in donations to 12 groups passed, with Wagner voting against.