Christmas won’t be coming this week for the Castlegar Hospice Society.
“It can’t be Christmas every week,” said city councilor Deb McIntosh, who is also chair of finance and corporate services.
McIntosh’s comment was in response to councilor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff’s concern after it was revealed on Monday night that the city’s grants budget line was depleted. While the city did authorize a $1,500 grant to Castlegar SHSS Rotary Interact Club to help with its good will trip to South America this August, and $250 to SHSS dry grad, it left Castlegar Hospice Society out in the cold at its request to sponsor a $350 hole at its fifth annual fundraising golf tournament.
“The budget is depleted and it is early into the year. Sometimes it goes fast, and sometimes it goes slow,” explained McIntosh.
That early depletion was due, in part, to a recent $4,000 grant to Pass Creek Fall Fair Society.
“This is not something that is done every year. They were facing challenges and they have over the years really walked the walk,” explained McIntosh.
“We have to pick and choose.”
Councilor Gordon Turner also voiced concern regarding the early exhaustion of grant funds, and wondered about those groups which normally apply for grants later in the year.
“A lot of groups apply for grants in the fall and we have to figure out some way to get more money in the pot,” said Turner.
McIntosh acknowledged the councilors’ concerns but stood behind the committee’s decision.
“I know we’re going to hear a lot of flak,” she said.
At one point during the discussion, Heaton-Sherstobitoff asked whether it would be feasible to find funds elsewhere in the city’s budget to accommodate future funding requests.
“If we move money over [from other city budgets] what happens when that money runs out?” asked McIntosh.
“Robbing Peter to pay Paul is never a good idea,” she said.
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff sided with McIntosh adding, “That’s a kind of dangerous game to start playing.”
Heaton-Sherstobitoff then commented that she would hate to tell any groups that there was no money in the budget for their grant requests.
“You won’t have to tell them. It will be me,” retorted McIntosh who added that the $15,000 grants budget was slashed from a previous budget of $30,000.
Despite that previous $30,000 budget, it seems that wasn’t enough either, said McIntosh.
“We also ran out of the $30,000. We just have to be realistic,” she concluded.