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General News · 18th January 2010
Jenny Hiebert
On August 27, 2009, the SRD Board approved the expenditure of $7500 to cover the cost of developing a business plan for the community hall grant service. The plan was prepared by the SCCA and formally received by the SRD board on October 29, 2009. As Cortes tax dollars funded this report it seems appropriate that residents should be aware of the important facts contained therein.

I'll start with a few quotes I found particularly interesting.

The cover page bears the SCCA logo and is titled "Funding Proposal to the Strathcona Regional District for Taxpayer Based Funding." Page 13 states: "The Area B Director, Noba Anderson, and the SRD have listened to the SCCA and provided funds from the feasibility reserve fund to develop a proposal for a regular grant service for area B." Page 7 states: "Recently our enthusiastic SCCA board and staff had a visioning session to discuss and approve the process to request permanent core funding from the SRD. This was a well-attended event, with 14 board members, staff, SRD director, and SCCA tenants in attendance." Page 14 states: "The SCCA is requesting the SRD initiate an "Alternate Approval Process" for a maximum levy of the greater of $100,000 or $.50/$1000 of asssessed value. This will allow for inflation and flexibility in the annual budget requests."

The document is lengthy (149 pages) but the most relevent information is scattered throughout the first 20 pages. Page one informs us that the SCCA needs secure core funding to maintain the aging Manson's Hall, increase the Human Resource component and ensure programs and services are maintained.

The hall needs approximately $100,000 of maintenance and this would be spread over five years, which equals $20,000/year. Staff increases are needed because of volunteer and staff burnout and so there is more time to apply for more grants.

Hall staff currently consists of a hall manager and janitor. These positions currently require $25,016 per year. It is proposed that two new positions be created--a program manager and a bookkeeper. The hours of the hall manager and janitor will also increase. The increased staff and hours will bring the total yearly staff costs to $58,420, an increase of $33,404. The maintenance and staff increases outlined above should mean the minimum 2010 tax would be $53,404. However, the actual amount to be requisitioned this year is $66,000. These numbers are based on the assumption that $34,000 in program costs will continue to be funded by a gaming grant. When that funding ends (possibily this year) those costs would be added to the tax requisition increasing the total to $100,000.

Looking at the five year budget (page 19) by the year 2015 tax dollars needed for maintenance and staff will increase to $74,284. Assuming programs don't increase but are funded through taxes brings the total to $108,284....And the Gorge Hall programs are also funded by gaming grants and may end soon. So add another $34,000.

Please note the above numbers do not include any funding for upgrading the library at Manson's Hall.

There is one other important fact to consider. With a maximum limit of the greater of $160,000 or $.50/$1000 of property assessment the maximum total increases as assessments increase.
Cannot hold my tongue
Comment by jack wills on 5th February 2010
Re By-law 55

It would seem that unfortunately, Manson's Hall, in very recent years has suffered from a lack of community volunteer input time, money, ideas.
Jenny Hiebert asked the questions: "Is there community will to reestablish island fund raising projects to cover the halls financial needs? Aside from taxation, what other fund raising options were considered?"
Good questions indeed, Jenny. I would think that these and many other should be addressed and answered before Bylaw #55 should ever have seen the light of day.

"If you want to support the hall (Manson's Hall) in this way (via taxation), take no action- YOUR SILENCE WILL BE COUNTED AS SUPPORT." Regional Director N. Anderson 15 Jan. 2010

"ALL THAT IS NECESSARY FOR EVIL TO TRIUMPH IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO (SAY) NOTHING." attributed to Edmund Burke.

I do not agree with the premise of Bylaw #55. However, whether one does or does not agree, one cannot agree with the way it has been presented. Three readings in one day! silence implies consent!...... I cannot hold my tongue.

"Will silence also be taken as support for the political decisions and the process that brought this bylaw before the community?" J. Hiebert, letter in Cortes Marketeer 5 Feb. 2010.

R.D. Anderson wrote me:

"With my suggestion, the SRD board chose to go with the alternative approval process for the proposed community hall service because it was 10% of the cost of a referendum"

Why indeed, then should we be asked to vote on anything at all? It is, after all, far less expensive to administrate without consultation or consent.

I submit that the cost of democracy is not cheap.

Regards, Jack Wills
Appreciation Apology Clarification More Questions
Comment by Jenny Hiebert on 23rd January 2010
I really appreciate Director Anderson's explanation about the $7500 expenditure from the Feasibility Study Reserve Fund. I now understand the expenditure from this fund did not go directly to the SCCA but was actually paid for a consultant to cover a professional establishment feasibility assessment and public polling.--being the Alternate Approval Process.
Director Anderson also informs that the consultants recommendation was that Manson's Hall does need solid core funding.

My goal in relying information was to fill what seemed to be an obvious void. following the trail of public information leading up to the Alternate Approval Proces I inadvertently drew an incorrect conclusion regarding the allocation of the $7500. For this I offer the community, the SCCA, and Director Anderson my sincerest apologies. I would not intentially mislead the communtiy.

A point of clalrification: My statement that the actual amount to be requisitioned in 2010 was $66,000 came directly from the report. I was merely relaying information found on page 14. Given I was reporting on the specifics of the report, I thought that would be understood. Here for the record is the exact qoute: "Requisitioned funds are budgeted to start at $66,000 in year beginning 2010 and bild with inflation over the next five years (assuming gaming funds of $34,000 are granted.)"

Regarding the 2010 requistion, I am confused by what appears to be the evolving requisition amount.

Your January 15 community letter states: "The proposed maximum hall tax requisition is the greater of $.50/$1000 or $160,000 of real property assessment...However, what Manson's Hall is currently requesting is about a third of that." One third of $160,000 is $53,333. Amazingly close to the $53,404. found in the report reflecting the amount the SCCA sites as needed funds for maintenance and increasing staff positions and hours in 2010. Now a few days later the number is down to $20,000. You further state that the number might be $35,000. A spread of $20,000 - approx. $53,000 is significant to the decision making process. Will you be able to relay the exact 2010 requsition number prior to the close of the Alternate Approval Process?
correction of errors in Jenny's article
Comment by Noba Anderson on 22nd January 2010
Two important corrections to errors or incomplete info in Jenny’s article.

1. Yes, a motion was passed to spend up to $7,500 from the reserve fund to go toward the establishment of a hall support service. These funds were to cover a professional service establishment feasibility assessment and the public polling required to establish a service. $3,885 was paid to Christine Fordham, who worked with the SCCA to provide a report for the SRD board’s consideration. This report came under SCCA cover, but all funds were paid to Ms. Fordham to assist the SCCA in the business assessment. In her professional opinion, Ms. Fordham recommended that in order to keep Manson’s Hall alive as we know it, it did indeed require solid core funding. Based on this report, the SRD board decided to proceed with an alternative approval process, as is now before you, which will cost about $500. $3,000 of the approved $7,500 will remain in the fund.

2. Jenny stated that the “actual amount to be requisitioned this year is $66,000.” That is not true. This is the amount requested by the SCCA in their fall 2010 report. The requisition amount is determined by the SRD board, not by the community halls. Since that report was received I have met with the SCCA board to find ways of decreasing that amount by not increasing programs as requested but rather just maintaining existing services. The increase of $33,404 is currently off the table as well as a few other projected expenses. What is therefore being requested at present is $20,000 for deferred maintenance costs. If the gaming grant does not come through this Spring they would be requesting $35,000 and deferring maintenance another year. Either way, it is nothing close to what Jenny has stated.

I will be publishing a full article in the next few days with options from here.

Noba Anderson
SRD expensive and inefficient
Comment by Grant Thacker on 20th January 2010
Take a look at http://www.strathconard.ca/budgetbinder/AB%5CSection1%5CNoticeAreaB.pdf and see how the SRD spends our tax money. We would be better to take the money out of our pockets and give it directly to the hall so the SRD can't waste it. I would be happy to pay $250 directly to the hall if I knew my taxes wouldn't go up and the money was wisely spent. The srd does not run anything right. Look at libraries, Quadra sewer, etc. etc. $7500 to fill out an application form?! It could have done alot of maintenance. How many people do we need working at the hall? Great make work project! Do the math.
Because we are a small isolated community.
Comment by amber sprungman on 20th January 2010
Dear Mr. Carter,

I feel the need to respond to your comments regarding "too much".

Having worked at the Manson's Hall, I have seen first hand the value of the programs that it is running; and the uncontested fact remains that all of the current programming is generated at the request and in response to community and member need. I feel strongly that it is for the very reasons you stated, that "Cortes is a small isolated community ", that gives the programs at the Manson's and the Gorge Halls validity. Most of the programs that are running now are family support programs and programs for the elderly. In regards to more user pay, well ... accessibility is the mantra for all Community Halls, many of the families and elderly taking advantage of the programming are by no means well off, in fact most could not attend or benefit from the programs if they were offered at full cost. Again, it is the Community Halls in these isolated communities that are offering sometimes life saving programs that respond to their Community's needs. In the past it has seemed that caring for one another as a community is something that was important to Cortes Islanders. Hopefully when the axe falls we will find that we have not lost this perspective!

Alternately, maybe you are right, if the SCCA did not offer these activities, maybe they would spring up organically in peoples homes or other such venues? Although, in looking at the long range perspective I don't see that these needs are going to disappear. Combined with population growth, I just see them increasing. What do you propose should be done to meet the community needs such as the SCCA and WCC have been providing?

One more point, I really despair when I hear people saying that the SCCA and WCC have been in competition. I have sat on the WCC Board and worked for the SCCA; and never once did I see any prevailing attitudes such as you suggest. On the flip side, I saw many opportunities taken to work together i.e. Cortes Day, Winter Community Dinners, the sharing of resources and scheduling dates. Its time to put those old grudges away and give some credit to the volunteers of those two boards who have been trying to work together for the benefit of the whole community. Also please don't leave Squirrel Cove out there on its own, its high time to be thinking of Cortes as one Community!

Just another perspective!

Most sincerely and not at all in hostility,

Amber Sprungman
Opps! It was a typo.
Comment by Jenny Hiebert on 19th January 2010
Hi Robert. Sorry I missed the typing error. The last sentence should be $.50/$1000.