New terms of reference for the Community Grant Review Committee were adoped by District of Sooke council at the regular meeting on Jan. 14.
The Finance and Administration Committee has been reviewing the functions of the grant review committee and recommended some changes to the committee structure.
This did not sit well with Councillor Maja Tait, who was the previous chair of that committee. She said she took issue with the terms of reference and felt the only way she could consider supporting them was if there were now four public members and two council members on the committee.
“I also find the finance committee is making recommendations on what should be funded,” she said. “I feel it should be council setting policy, not everyone on the Fnance and Administration Committee represents the public. It should be council making decisions.”
Mayor Wendal Milne said the district gives out four per cent of its budget in grants and they have an obligation to scrutinize those grants and stand by their decisions. In 2012 the district gave out $65,000 in community grants alone and close to $50,000 in fee-for-service contracts to the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce, Sooke Region Tourism Association and the Visitor Information Centre. Milne stated that Sooke was more generous in those areas than many other communities.
Councillor Rick Kasper said the mayor made the commitment to take it upon himself to look at the current grant policy.
“People have to realize that in today’s economy money is not readily available. We have to insure money is spent wisely. If money isn’t spent properly, that’s money ill spent… making less for other people,” said Kasper.
The new community grant structure will have three categories; annual, bi-annual and service agreeents. Each of the categories have strict criteria for accountability and reports. The annual grant (Category A) is not to provide on-going support for an indefiniate period; the bi-annual grant (Category B) will not exceed $10,000 and is for new projects and will not fund administration, travel or wages. Service Agreements (Category C) will require accountability, terms of funding, and annual reports on or before March 1.
Mayor Milne appointed Councillor Kerrie Reay as chair of the Community Grant Review Committee and said advertising would begin for new public members.
“The job will be much larger than it was before,” said Milne.
Councillor Tait was opposed.