Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki addresses a crowd outside of the city hall. Council was forced to make some tough decisions regarding municipal grant applications this year due to an increase in applications received and what they total altogether. (File Photo)

Penticton city council forced to make tough calls with grant applications

The city received 43 applications totalling $993,000 but could only approve about 55 per cent

The City of Penticton had just under $1 million in municipal grants and civic partnerships earmarked to divvy out in the 2020 budget deliberations, but estimated it can only fund 55 per cent of the applications received.

City council has been in budget discussions since Dec. 10, and day two was focused on municipal grants, asset and amenity management and administration.

According to the budget package put together by city staff, the city had allocated $410,000 to distribute through civic partnerships and $586,000 for municipal grants.

“The city can typically fund between 70 and 80 per cent of the grant requests (annually), however for 2020, because of the large increase in requests, we’re projecting funding only 55 per cent,” said Angela Campbell, controller with the city, during the presentation.

The report states that the city received 43 applications totalling $993,000 for 2020, which is nearly double the amount the city has allotted to distribute.

READ MORE: Community safety, recreation and culture first topics of discussion in Penticton’s 2020 budget

This is compared to the 51 grant applications totalling $710,000 the city received for the 2019 budget.

“The city has a very generous program when coupled with the other types of assistance provided, including permissives, nominal leases and ad hocs like Yes Project,” said Campbell.

“The total assistance equates to over 6 per cent of taxation revenues.”

There was much debate surrounding whether to approve the Penticton Rotary Club’s grant application for the annual Penticton Ribfest because while it is a nonprofit society, the event makes a sizable profit.

Council voted to grant the club $3,000 in cash and $4,294 in kind since the festival has to move from its normal location to Skaha Lake Park.

Members on council expressed that they would have liked to grant more money to the Ha Ha Ha Kidzfest Society since it is trying to bring back its once-popular children’s festival this summer, but settled by approving $3,000 in cash and $5,000 in kind.

The South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre saw its grant application funding cut in half when council voted to provide the centre with $10,000 of the requested $20,000 for its operational costs.

Council also voted to provide the Penticton Dragon Boat Club $5,000 in cash on top of its request for $13,950 in kind since it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020 and the club wants to expand the event.

READ MORE: Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce concerned about proposed business tax hike

Penticton Peach Festival received one of the larger municipal grants with $29,000 in kind and $20,000 in cash approved for the annual event.

Council also debated over whose obligation it was to fund the refinishing of the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre’s hardwood floor and voted to approve a one-time grant of $10,000, which is just less than half the quoted amount needed.

The S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society also received a grant from council for $65,000 for its operating costs.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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