At the recent Hope and District of Chamber of Commerce Meeting a matter of fiscal concern regarding community grants was brought to the table by Mayor Wilfried Vicktor to MLA Laurie Throness, in lieu of the alleged phasing out of specific funds.
“An awkward question for you Laurie in regards to the small communities grant — last year we had a $327,000 grant, which was a year-to-year grant, and I guess those have been phased out by the provincial government,” said Vicktor. “I’m not trying to make this an ambush question, but I think we are all quite concerned — what we’d like you to do is to get back to us as a council.”
It was established by council after carefully going through the budget line-by-line that a gross fiscal misrepresentation was noted in the community grants section.
Vicktor voiced concerns of an aging infrastructure and inferred the outcome of the lack of funds in the stipulated budget would be insufficient to cover desired infrastructure funds initially perceived to be available to council.
“We raised the taxes one per cent in the community and we can only generate $70,000 of extra income, so it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure that out, it’s pretty hard to recoup,” he said.
Vicktor’s inquiry was subsequently quelled when it was noted by Throness at a later date and through an act of due diligence on behalf of the MLA, that a clerical error had been made in the budget.
“We were under the mistaken impression that the small community grant had been phased out — this was not correct, we found out through our MLA that they’re still available,” Vicktor told The Hope Standard in a rebuttal.
According to Vicktor the community grant this year was better than the prior year at over $200,000.
“It was a pleasant surprise and council went through a solid analysis of the budget and found some significant cost savings — by working smarter and harder and we’re going to take a two per cent tax increase to the public.
Vicktor promised that despite the tax increase the aim of council is to keep it as low as possible, while moving the community ahead.
“The newfound money will be going into infrastructure costs, including our aging infrastructure, the need for enhanced supports for the special needs people in the public health sector, or for people with mental health challenges and the need for more rehab/detox opportunities. The budget was available for public scrutiny on March 30th,” said Vicktor.