City council explores funding for various agencies and organizations

Operational budgets likely to continue through the end of the week

City council reviewed funding requests from an array of local agencies and organizations during Operational Budget talks on Monday.

Included in the funding allotments for 2019 were the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) for $48,954 and a Red Deer Public Library grant for $103,732.

The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre also landed funding for 2019 at the recommended $160,121 after an amendment to reduce that amount was defeated.

This year’s proposed Operating Budget is based on council’s Strategic Plan, guidelines established by council, initiatives in City department service plans and feedback from citizens regarding community safety.

The Budget as recommended to council presents a 2.50 per cent tax increase in the municipal portion of the property tax bill.

Meanwhile, Cyclovia, a downtown cycling event that requires street closures, didn’t receive $8,000 in funding that had been recommended.

The main goal for the event, according to its web site, is to promote and increase awareness for cycling and walking as an ‘acceptable and safe mode of travel for recreation and commuting on public streets’.

Last August marked the first Cyclovia event in downtown Red Deer. Council spoke positively of the event itself, but concerns were raised about numerous other organizations and events, which also require street closures of some measure.

“Anything I’ve ever seen in the downtown is a positive,” said Coun. Buck Buchanan in discussion leading up to the final decision.

He argued that the ‘positives’ brought to the downtown core, through events like Cyclovia, are ultimately worth it, and could be setting a ‘good’ precedent.

Another organization seeking support was Volunteer Central, which had requested $120,000 from the City per year for two years.

The funding request pointed out that the support would help the organization to continue to provide volunteer services and training opportunities in Red Deer.

Coun. Johnston called it an “all in or all out” request that deserved Council’s support, particularly in light of the enormous volunteer needs for next month’s Canada Winter Games.

He also mentioned that some 80 local non-profits are currently supported by Volunteer Central and that there is also an array of training opportunities and workshops available through the organization as well.

Ultimately, an amendment was introduced to reduce funding to one year instead and council opted to support that.

Sunnybrook Farms and the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra also both requested operational funding, and were directed to apply to the recently-increased Community Culture Development Fund for additional support.

“Council had looked at the Fund that we have which is allocated to cultural groups, and council increased that fund,” explained City Manager Craig Curtis. Because of that, more money is available going forward as there has been a cap of $30,000, he added.

“When it came to special requests from the Symphony and Sunnybrook Farm, they were told this Fund would be enhanced and they could apply for additional funding through that,” he said.

Operating Budget deliberations are scheduled to continue through to the end of the week.

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