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Spirit Square budget approved

Council was torn between supporting Spirit Square and freeing up funding for a new council last week.

Jim Creighton, who is in charge of programming at Spirit Square, was looking for a funding commitment from council at last week’s Tuesday council meeting.

“The contractor needs approval of the 2012 budget at this time in order to ensure there is sufficient time to book quality entertainment for the 2012 season along with the infrastructure necessary to stage the events,” said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s manager of parks, recreation and culture. “Approval at this time will provide the continuity necessary to build on established relationships with local groups, engage potential new local user groups and increase community participation in Spirit Square activities, particularly among the youth demographic.”

Council approved a budget of $54,000 for 2012 programming but the decision wasn’t easy.

“I understand the need to approve the budget now so Mr. Creighton can get started on 2012 programming but I’d like to give the new council leeway (in the event) it needs to adjust the budget,” Coun. Claire Moglove said.

Coun. Andy Adams agreed but said Spirit Square is too valuable to the community to risk losing out on potential entertainment for next year.

“While I loathe to approve (anything) that will encumber future councils, this one is a fabric of our community and I think it’s important to proceed,” Coun. Andy Adams said.

Council asked city staff if there was a way to avoid having to allocate funding prior to budget time, which is in March.

“I find we’re in this, dilemma, if you will, every year with groups and organizations looking for money from next year’s budget,” Coun. Roy Grant said. “I understand they need to pay their bills from January, February and March until the budget is approved. Is there a way to change the process so organizations like this can be funded at this time of year so they’re covered until March of the following year?”

Laura Ciarniello, the city’s manager of corporate services, said the city could sign a contract with the organization in question to pre-approve funding for multiple years, similar to what the city has in place with Emterra, which is contracted by the city to do garbage pick-up.

Grant said that is something the city “should be considering so we don’t have to do this year after year.”

Milnthorp said Creighton’s contract with the city ends on Dec. 31, 2013 and suggested that at that time the contractor and city could possibly work out a three-year agreement to provide “for some predictability.”

at last week’s Tuesday council meeting.

“The contractor needs approval of the 2012 budget at this time in order to ensure there is sufficient time to book quality entertainment for the 2012 season along with the infrastructure necessary to stage the events,” said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s manager of parks, recreation and culture. “Approval at this time will provide the continuity necessary to build on established relationships with local groups, engage potential new local user groups and increase community participation in Spirit Square activities, particularly among the youth demographic.”

Council approved a budget of $54,000 for 2012 programming but the decision wasn’t easy.

“I understand the need to approve the budget now so Mr. Creighton can get started on 2012 programming but I’d like to give the new council leeway (in the event) it needs to adjust the budget,” Coun. Claire Moglove said.

Coun. Andy Adams agreed but said Spirit Square is too valuable to the community to risk losing out on potential entertainment for next year.

“While I loathe to approve (anything) that will encumber future councils, this one is a fabric of our community and I think it’s important to proceed,” Coun. Andy Adams said.

Council asked city staff if there was a way to avoid having to allocate funding prior to budget time, which is in March.

“I find we’re in this, dilemma, if you will, every year with groups and organizations looking for money from next year’s budget,” Coun. Roy Grant said. “I understand they need to pay their bills from January, February and March until the budget is approved. Is there a way to change the process so organizations like this can be funded at this time of year so they’re covered until March of the following year?”

Laura Ciarniello, the city’s manager of corporate services, said the city could sign a contract with the organization in question to pre-approve funding for multiple years, similar to what the city has in place with Emterra, which is contracted by the city to do garbage pick-up.

Grant said that is something the city “should be considering so we don’t have to do this year after year.”

Milnthorp said Creighton’s contract with the city ends on Dec. 31, 2013 and suggested that at that time the contractor and city could possibly work out a three-year agreement to provide “for some predictability.”

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