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The presentation to Monday night's Committee of the Whole meeting was reasoned, full of good research and what’s more, the Council deferred a decision until they could review the input.  The subject was a proposed new Community Grants Policy – that is, how should grants be decided and who should be eligible.  Dennis Nabieszko provided a paper to the councilors with a lot of research, information and suggestions and spoke about it in a presentation.  When asked about cost savings that it might provide, Dennis said that is was about best practices, not savings.  After some discussion, John Henderson moved that the proposed policy be deferred until the input could be considered by staff.  His motion passed unanimously.

Dennis NabieszkoDennis NabieszkoThe proposed policy was called the Municipal Community Grants Policy and although it was a good start it did not have the benefit of the extensive research done by the Cobourg Taxpayers Association (CTA).  Further, the CTA criticized the budget process where grants were decided but the Council seems to recognize that problem since they are proposing a policy to define the process of deciding on grants.

The CTA's research is comprehensive and looked at the practices of 10 other municipalities ranging from Prescott to Toronto (see link below).  In response to a question, Dennis said that no single municipality had all the best practices – their recommendations were a composite of them all.

According to the CTA, the issues covered in a good grants policy would be:

  • The types of grants
  • Eligibility criteria; namely, who would be ineligible recipients and what would be ineligible purposes
  • Grant application requirements.

Types would be best categorized as:

  • Operational Funding Grants – that is, general operating expenses.
  • Capital Funding Grants - a one-time capital or equipment purchase. The purchase of a property or land, the construction of a new building or major renovations would not qualify.
  • Special Events/Projects Grants
  • Facility Rental/Fee Reduction Grants - offsetting grants for the rental of Town of Cobourg facilities or a reduction in fees for specific Town services.

The CTA  recommends strict eligibility requirements:

Eligible organizations

  • A not-for-profit organization that has been in operation for at least one year, and has a volunteer Board of Directors.
  • To be clear, the CTA listed a long list of ineligible organizations including Individuals, organizations with political affiliations, service clubs, faith organizations promoting and/or requiring adherence to a faith, health clinic-based services, schools, post secondary institutions, general fund-raisers and more.

Ineligible Purposes

  • Fund-raising
  • To cover deficits or reduce debt.
  • Programs that other levels of government have legislated responsibility for funding.
  • Retroactive payments.
  • Purchase of a building or land, construction of a new building or major renovation.
  • Personal gain by a member of the governing body.

It was also recommended that the grant application process be defined and that there should be a report on the usage of the money provided.

No doubt the town staff will not accept 100% of the recommendations, but it is good that the council wants to consider this research and these recommendations.  If done properly, the result will be a better policy.  And look – no consultants were hired!

Downloads

CTA Brief on Community Grants Policy
CTA Speaking Notes

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