The city has already started its budgeting process for 2017, municipal grants being a large chunk of that budget.
The 2017 year is going to bring some changes, however, to the grant policy, including a new provision to allow an event that has been given a value-in-kind grant to use a city facility to be relocated, should a paying customer also want it at the same time.
According to Colin Fisher, the city’s chief financial officer this is a result of multiple instances of feedback from the Penticton Trade and Convention centre in particular, where a venue had been booked through the value-in-kind grant and there were acceptable alternatives.
Council was concerned, however, who would be making the scheduling and relocation decisions.
“Some displacement could be political in nature and that group could come back and say this is a hardship for us,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.
Fisher confirmed that it would be the event operator, but groups would have the opportunity to appeal to the city.
“I have been in discussion with the managers of the Trade and Convention Centre and made it clear that this has to be done with all due care and sensitivity to the grant recipient,” said Fisher. He explained the purpose was to provide flexibility in scheduling for all facilities.
Another change is a requirement that promotional materials carry the City of Penticton (COP) logo, and even radio, TV or verbal promotion of the event include recognition of city funding. The events themselves should have COP banners displayed.
Council passed those changes unanimously, but had less appetite for a change requested by Coun. Judy Sentes, who wanted to see the Penticton and district Community Arts Council reinstated as a standing grant. In previous years, the arts council was on the standing grants list, but was somehow dropped two years ago, according to Sentes.
“They are, under an agreement, the managers of our Leir House, so there has been a great partnership to manage that facility for the community,” said Sentes, adding that under a revised lease, council is now getting property tax notices in the amount of $1,200 per year.
“They are also asking that the reinstatement include the property taxes,” said Sentes. “They are the tenant, not the landlord, not the owner of the facility. “They are the caretaker of one of our heritage sites.”
Other councillors and the mayor, however, wanted to delay the reinstatment until the actual budget discussions.
“I would rather do it at budget time. I don’t want to start the floodgates of debating grants now in the summer,” said Jakubeit. “We will talk about the merits of their grants and a little bit extra to deal with their tax bills.”
Sentes argued that the situation was an exceptional one, and two years was long enough for them to go without surety for their own budgeting and planning process. They were, she said, only asking to be added back onto the standing grant list.
Coun. Andre Martin said he didn’t want to make a decision without being able to evaluate the council’s request.
“I don’t have comfort without knowing what their budget number is and what we are going to put into that. All of these community grants are supposed to be reduced,” said Martin.
Fisher was directed to note the arts council request for discussion during the formal grant process.