Core funding challenged
Mike W. Bryant
The issue came to a head Tuesday evening while council sat through a line-by-line reading of the 2006 budget that shows $300,000 has been put aside for core funding next year.
Council was looking for places to trim it down after administration revealed the latest budget outlook forecasting a need for a three per cent property tax increase.
Coun. Doug Witty said core funding is something that should be reviewed every year.
"Caribou Carnival is probably something that we could legitimately say will require core funding forever," said Witty.
"But there are other groups there that are fairly self-sustaining, and maybe shouldn't be getting core funding.
"The core funding just tends to slide through every year."
The fund guarantees a fixed amount of money every year. Thirteen groups will receive core funding next year. Council turned down requests for $30,500 in increases and new funding.
The Yellowknife Foster Family Association was hoping for $7,500 in first-time core funding, but won't get any money. But the association is eligible for a special funding grant.
The only increases approved were $500 for Special Olympics NWT and $3,500 more for the NWT Council of Persons with Disabilities. Council raised the grants after Yellowknife Curling Club reduced its request to $11,000 from $15,000.
Last year, council increased the core funding budget by $64,000 after they were overwhelmed with $200,000 in requests for additional funding.
Several councillors, including Witty, Alan Woytuik and Dave McCann want to see some form of review start early in the new year. Council must give groups a year's notice if they decide to reduce or terminate funding.
Woytuik said core funding should be used as "start-up money" to help community organizations get off the ground.
Council should encourage some to become self-sufficient, Woytuik said and named "special events like Caribou Carnival, Folk on the Rocks, and things like that.
"Eventually over time they should build up a reserve and become self-sufficient," he said.
"If they can't become self-sufficient are you just flogging a dead horse? Maybe we should just let some of them die."
Coun. Kevin O'Reilly warned, however, that council is taking a risk if it meddles with core funding.
"If they would like to stir up a firestorm they should go ahead, but do it at their own peril," said O'Reilly.
"I think there will likely be a lot of people in this community who will be very upset."
Carl Bird, who helps organize the Yellowknife International Air Show, called core funding essential. They asked for an increase to $25,000 next year from $10,000, but council declined.
He said ticket sales alone are not enough to keep his organization afloat.
"If we wound up not having anybody come to the airport because it was pouring rain we would not get any gate," said Bird.
"We would require this core funding to pay our basic bills."