FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The city has approved 2016 Base Budget Grants applications for the organizations that inquired last year — totaling $737,310 altogether.
On Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, 2015, City Council received presentations from each of the organizations, asking for a specified amount. Council also granted Permissive Tax Exemptions on the Oct. 26, 2015 meeting for four applicants, the estimated value of which is $188,881.40.
Last year, Council received grant applications totaling $801,921 and approved grants in the amount of $690,605 which included a late request from the Fort St. John International Airport for $20,000.
The Community Arts Council was awarded $15,000, initially asking for $20,000 to allocated to its member groups. They also made the same request last year. The Arts Council was one of the organizations that received a Permissive Tax Exemption for 2016, estimated to be worth $9,814.64.
The Fort St. John Public Library Association requested $400,000, an increase of $10,000 from last year’s request. The request was increased to directly support library program services for the community. City awarded the Association with $380,000.
The Fort St. John’s Women’s Resource Society requested $9,180 to help cover the costs of their bus pass program, an increase of $1,705 from last year’s request. The Society was awarded $7,475 to help cover this, the same amount provided last year.
The City says the funding for the Cultural Society, which submitted an application for $199,396, is already worked into the operating budget for $500,000 and thus, not in this report.
The North Peace Fall Fair is the first application on the list to receive their asking price of $5,000. This is also the first item on the list from a first-time applicant of the Base Budge Grants. However, they did apply for $4,000 through the Discretionary Grants last year.
The North Peace Historical Society also received their request fully, for $10,000. They also received a Permissive Tax Exemption, worth $58,979.12.
The North Peace Justice Society requested $22,743 for 2016, which is the same amount they received last year after requesting $25,000. The City notes the grant was reduced to meet the five year goal of decreasing grant allocations for operating expenses to 20% of total revenue. For 2016, the Society will receive $20,451.
Finally, the Tourism Board of Fort St. John requested $71,000 — $46,000 for the tourism plan, and $25,000 to allow the board to hire another person for their staff.
“Tourism FSJ is not a legal entity and as such, the City would have to hire and administer this person as a bargaining unit member,” the City notes. “Any new position would have to be vetted through the City’s New Position Request process.”
This is the same request they made last year. The board received $36,000 — the same amount received the last three years.
In 2011, Council made changes to the base budget grant policy, adding this update:
“2. Grants will not be provided to offset operating expenses for an organization.
Examples include but are not limited to: utility expenses, rental space, staffing, materials or supplies.
* The existing organizations that fall under the fee for service category are grandfathered into this policy and the City’s contribution towards their operating costs will be decreased starting in 2014 over the next five years that will result in the grant allocation indicated in the Eligibility Section, item 3 as of 2018.
* City Council recognizes that the Fort St. John Library is an anomaly and this organization will retain its annual operating contribution.
3. Base Budget Grants that are approved will not be over 20% of the organization’s total yearly revenue.”
Certain councillors had to leave the meeting temporarily during the moving of recommendations as there was a conflict of interest regarding specific organizations.