January 23rd, 2021

Groups present budget needs


By Lethbridge Herald on November 23, 2020.

City council's Finance Committee began budget deliberations Monday by hearing presentations from local community organizations and institutions on their budget requirements for the next two years. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
City council’s Finance Committee began budget deliberations on Monday by hearing presentations by local community organizations and institutions on their budget requirements for the next two years.
Among the presenters were the Allied Arts Council, the Lethbridge Public Library, the Galt Museum and Archives, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, the Lethbridge Sport Council, Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden and the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, which all end their current budget cycle on Dec. 31.
Council had been seeking proposals from each of these organizations entertaining how they would arrive at a five- or 10-per-cent reduction in their 2021 and 2022 budgets, but most asked to maintain their current funding levels citing financial need and the ongoing fallout from COVID-19 as special events were cancelled and visitor numbers declined.
When pressed to come up with reduction suggestions, both the Galt Museum and Lethbridge Library said they would likely have to reduce their hours of operations. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery suggested it would answer the budget challenge by reducing hours of operation, bringing in fewer exhibitions, and getting rid of free visitations on Thursday night and Sundays. The Lethbridge Sport Council said the $55,000 per year allotted for their work in the community was already quite low, but they could find ways to absorb a further five-per-cent cut if required of them.
The Southern Alberta Ethnic Association asked for $73,000 in 2021 and $79,000 in 2022, which is already 40 per cent less than they asked last year because they were using reserves to offset their costs for 2021 and 2022.
The Allied Arts Council representatives said as an organization they were already facing a potential deficit of $200,000 in 2021 without council agreeing to provide supplementary one-time funding similar to what they provided in 2020.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden asked for an additional $50,000 in 2021 and $99,000 to help with transition money as they bring staffing and services online at their new community centre, and no reduction to their base funding.
No decisions were made by council on these fee-for-service agreements on Monday, but will return for debate and eventual council vote later in the week.
Council will begin tackling potential cuts within the corporation of the City of Lethbridge today.
Deputy Mayor Rob Miyashiro, who chairs the Finance Committee, said this was the first council budget in his memory where councillors were seeking a specific reduction target of $6 million instead of seeking to arrive at a specific number for the total budget.
“Really what we were doing (Monday) was kind of setting the stage,” he said. “There was no deliberation really, and what we were really trying to do is say what is going to go into our target for reduction. This is a reduction budget, this is not a ‘what are we going to include?’ This time it is ‘here is what our target is to reduce.’ We voted (as a council) not to increase property tax. We voted not to increase business fees. We voted not to increase utility rates. So because of all those things, we immediately put ourselves under the gun.”
Miyashiro said the reason council wanted to hear from the community organizations and institutions it did on Monday was because those organizations were only funded through Dec. 31.
This did not mean council was looking for them to specifically reduce their budgets by any kind of number, but what got cut or not would depend if council found other ways within the budget to make its $6-million spending reduction target within the corporation itself.
“Those people who came to do presentations today have to be approved for the 2021 budget,” said Miyashiro, “especially the fee-for-service organizations. Their funding actually ends on Dec. 31. The police had to come back to us because their funding back in 2018 was provisional for this time period (for the police and Crisis Team, The Watch and the Community Peace Officers). Those are the ones we have to make a conscience (budget) decision on.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

Share this story:
<5
5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
JustObserving

Budget solution : Given the dire situation on which we find ourselves and the fact many are w/o employment and at risk of loss of their livelihoods, what say we that the artsy fartsy crowd either fund themselves w/o resort to the public teat OR accept a year iof ZERO grant monies. Frankly, if 1/2 these folks had to shut their doors in perpetuity the majority of this City would not see one iota of suffering.
As to the Ethnic Association, if they make a sound business case fund them. At least they serve a portion of the population that sees the City as a “land of opportunity” rather than a Pinot Noir tax payer funded club to look down their pointy noses at the fools who fund them.

Seth Anthony

Right on Just Observing!

These are all wants, not needs, and from a tiny portion of the population at that. What arrogance there is in these people trying to force others to pay for their pet projects, and what stupidity there is council giving them are money. If a few want these pet projects, then they can fund them themselves. If they can’t survive on donations, then it’s because they are not needed, nor wanted by the vast majority. Simple as that.

Millions and millions are wasted in similar manners to this by every municipal council in Canada. Now add in the same waste at the provincial and federal level, and the amount is in the billions. All of this takes away from the people’s needs.

This is yet another example of how the whole political system breeds corruption, vote buying, pet projects, and virtue signalling.

Last edited 1 month ago by Seth Anthony
FBlack

Agree absolutely! Ethnic association deserves consideration. The others seem to be willing to look at zero increase or adjusting hours and such, good on them. The kicker is the Japanese garden. Are they that arrogant that they ask for more after receiving 2.9 million last year. Who runs that group? Should be ashamed of themselves.

Seth Anthony

The ethnic group MIGHT have something that deserves consideration, but I stress the word “might”.

The others? Prove how your lack of existence will negatively affect the vast majority of Lethbidge citizens. Meh. Don’t bother answering, as anyone with an iota of brain function knows that the the answer is, It won’t”.

Fescue

In rational budgeting, you don’t save money by switching to two-ply toilet paper. Which is what we are talking about with the budgets these groups work with. Culture is what makes a city worth being in. You don’t visit Barcelona to view the police work.

No, in budget reductions start with the big costs. It’s the 80/20 rule in action: 80 percent of the budget goes to 20 percent of the activities.

What is being expressed here are the preferences of vocal old fellows who think Archie Bunker reruns is culture.