City Council heard funding requests from its levy boards, local boards and outside agencies during Monday evening’s preliminary budget meeting; several of them requesting increases to their 2019 funding levels.
Each of these organizations, which all receive funding from the city, was required to fill out a prerequisite form outlining statistical data on events,paid admissions, sources and amounts of revenue received and their funding request, including what any increased funding would be used for.
The Sault Ste. Marie Conservation Authority didn’t request any additional funds, despite a provincial government cut of 50 per cent, whilst Algoma University ($40,000), the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre ($175,000), Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee ($90,000) and Soo Arena Association ($19,129) each asked for the same amount as their 2019 budgets.
The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Board asked for a 7.9 per cent increase, agreed upon by the board during their meeting on Sept. 26, 2019, to help cover costs charged back to the police services and the general increasing costs of operations. The provincial government recently cut $814,000 from its grant to the police service, leaving the SSMPS short of their $27,539,146 budget.
The Sault Ste. Marie Library Board asked for a seven per cent increase, saying that without a budget increase, the Korah Branch will have to close.
The Art Gallery of Algoma asked for an additional $315,785, in order to preserve and maintain collections after a flood on Oct. 1 that continues to be an issue.
The Sault Ste. Marie Museum requested $260,000 again this year, in hopes a third staff member to increase its education and outreach program. Last year, they were unable to due to lack of funding.
Harvest Algoma Executive Director Mike Delfre asked City Council to partner with the organization and split the food security program’s funding – currently $400,000 provided annually by the United Way – 50/50 for operational costs.
Delfre, who said the program fits well with FutureSSM’s poverty reduction strategy, explained that in the one-and-a-half years Harvest Algoma has been running, they’ve rescued 125,000 pounds of food, which has been redistributed to organizations and community groups in need. The 60 tonnes of food provided approximately 41,000 meals, estimated at a total of $275,000.
Council will deliberate the budget Dec. 9-10.