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General News · 22nd August 2010
Elinor Bazar
On Thursday, Aug. 26, the Strathcona Regional Board will be considering whether to pass Bylaw 75 which would approve having a referendum in the Cortes electoral area on a parcel tax to support our community halls. At the Southern Cortes Community Association AGM May 31, 140 members out of 187 voted in favour of having a parcel tax, and 123 out of 169 ballots supported having a referendum. The membership also voted 148 to 33 that the tax not exceed $85 per parcel and 142 to 41 that the amount requested each year be set by a vote of the members at the AGM.

According to our Director Noba Anderson, opponents have sent a large number of messages to the Regional Board opposing the tax and asking the referendum not be held this fall. The RB has received few messages of support for Bylaw 75, presumably because those who voted in favour in May assumed they had stated their position. It is important now for those who support having the referendum this fall to let the board know.

Letters should be addressed to the 'Strathcona Regional District Board' and sent to or by post to Strathcona Regional District, 301-990 Cedar Street, Campbell River, BC V9W 7Z8. Tel: 250-830-6700.

The SCCA's reasons for seeking tax support are explained in the following article. Financial statements for the last two years and a draft budget for the next two years are in the attachments. Both the article and attached documents were available at the Open Space Meeting on August 14.

Why Core-Funding?
By SCCA Board of Directors
August 13, 2010


The vast majority of Community Halls in rural areas throughout BC are funded in part through the tax base. The SCCA is pursuing similar funding for the following reasons.

Building Maintenance & Repairs
The SCCA Board has struggled for many years to keep up to the ever-growing costs of maintaining Manson's Hall, while at the same time increasing the level of services and programs to meet the needs of the community. Often, it has been a matter of “crisis management”, like finding $30,000 to buy new furnaces, or upgrade the water system, or a new well, or to pay for escalating insurance and maintenance costs.

According to the SCCA's “Building Condition Report” prepared in 2008 by Sten Christensen, the amount of scheduled repairs required for Manson's hall to meet current fire and safety standards is approximately $96,000. While grant proposals for this purpose are currently being submitted, it would be unwise to rely entirely on grant support to fund these repairs. Very few grants will fund capital projects and those that do are very competitive. On average, only 1 out of every 5 grant proposals will be successful. Additionally, because grants require 6-12 months to process, and because they can only fund the specific purpose for which they were awarded, grants by their very nature cannot provide immediate assistance when emergency repairs are needed, as they often are.

On the other hand, core-funding is not restrictive and can thus be used for any and all building repairs. Core-funding can also be held in reserve and made available immediately if necessary.

Core Human Resources
The SCCA has two permanent paid positions, Janitor and Hall Manager. Both positions have been under-funded and duties overextended for a number of years. Seven hours of cleaning per week for a building and property of this size, and which receives 100-400 people per day, is inadequate.
Also, the Manager's list of duties for hall and program administration is far too extensive for the paid hours allotted causing incalculable loss to the SCCA when the Manager burns out and leaves every couple of years.

The Board becomes over-extended as well as general Hall operations fall to the Board, giving the Board less time for important decision making processes, fund-raising, long-term strategizing and program development, and in many cases causing volunteer burn-out. The Board turns over
regularly and history, context and experience in managing the hall is lost and stymies productivity.

In order to run the Hall effectively and sustainably, the Hall manager position should be allotted 30 hours per week and the Janitor position 10 hours per week. Current revenue allows for 15 hours and 7 hours respectively.

Additional Operational Costs
It is extremely difficult to find grants to cover operational expenses. Hall and program staffing, hydro, telephone, supplies, insurance, accounting, and all other overhead expenses are generally not fundable directly through grants. The availability of core-funding will ensure that our bills are
paid on time and that we have the necessary human resources to run the Hall in a sustainable, healthy manner.

Creating a Secure Financial Foundation for our Community Halls
The unreliability of grants, combined with fluctuations in economic climate, board capabilities, and membership initiative, makes fund-raising success unpredictable in any given year.

The option to have tax support year-to-year therefore provides a financial safety net when other sources of funding do not come through. Fund-raising will always be a priority for the SCCA, but in cases where funds are insufficient, the community can rest assured knowing that core funding can provide for the deficit. Core funding inherently ensures that our community halls will be structurally and operationally sustainable for generations to come.

The SCCA is currently carrying out a great number of fund-raising initiatives.
Here are some of them:

-*- Thanks to Grant-in-Aid funding, the Board has been working closely with Sandra Wood to
write grant proposals to a variety of public and private funding sources. In July alone, 3 proposals were submitted for a total of $35,000.

-*-Through a lot of hard work by key volunteers and board members, Cortes Day 2010 was more successful then ever before. A variety of fund-raising activities were carried out including: a 'door prize' raffle, silent auction, burger stand, pie stand, cake walk, Nail Sail n'Bail raffle and more.

-*-Inspired by Amiti Melnyk, organic cotton bags were donated and are being printed with the SCCA logo for sale at Friday Market.

-*-The community responded to the SCCA's challenging financial situation this year by
donating over $6,500.

-*- Local events are being organized by the public independent of the SCCA board to raise
funds, such as a concert recently offered by Shine.

-*-Also independent of the SCCA, the Cortes Exchange is developing a local currency modeled after the 'Community Way Dollar' currently being used in the Comox Valley. Creating additional currency flow for local non-profit organizations is at the heart of this form of currency. A deeper community discussion around this topic is anticipated for this fall.

The SCCA Board has been mandated by its membership to pursue tax-based funding.

Well aware of the unreliable nature of fund-raising and the need for greater maintenance and operational support for Manson’s Hall, the SCCA membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of tax support at our 2010 AGM and for the option to be voted on in a referendum this fall. This was the second successful membership vote on tax support, the first carried at our 2008 AGM, with additional discussions during our 2007 and 2009 AGMs. Should Bylaw 75 succeed to pass in a referendum, the membership will be asked every year for how much to request for the following fiscal year, not to exceed $79,000 in total or $85 per parcel per year. If fund-raising goes extremely well in any given year, then the Board may not have to ask for anything. The way people can insure that is to become involved. All Cortes Islanders are thus encouraged to host and participate in fund-raising activities for our Community Halls.