By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
Town of Castor administration presented several options to council for potential service cuts if the Town doesn’t receive at least $30,000 from the federal Canada Student Summer Jobs Program.
Town administration had concerns in recent months when the window to apply for the program did not open when it typically did.
The window for program applications finally did open and is remaining open until Feb. 28th.
With the program applications now open, albeit late, the concern from Town administration is if they do not receive the funding they typically do.
The Town has received funding from the program yearly and it allows the municipality to hire several high school and university students during the summer months. Due to cutbacks that have been seen recently in both the provincial and federal governments, the concern is that the community won’t receive the funding needed to hire the students.
“If we receive at least $30,000 there will be no change to service levels,” said CAO Christopher Robblee during his presentation. Robblee presented several scenarios to council during the Feb. 24th meeting.
The first scenario he gave to council is that the Town receives at least $30,000 to hire the summer students. If that threshold is reached, the Town will have the funds in place to keep services at 2019 levels.
If the Town only receives partial funding for summer students, fewer students will be hired and residents could see service level decreases.
“A loss of up to $11,500 (from the $30,000) means that two students are lost,” said Robblee.
“Our budgets are so tight that we can’t make up the difference.”
If the Town receives no funding from the program, there would be definite and significant service cuts. Four students would not be hired, and the Camp Beaver Tail summer camp would be cut as well as several other cost-saving options including closing the pool earlier and decreasing pool staff training time among other things.
The summer students hired by the Town every year do a variety of work, such as cutting and weed-eating the Town’s grass, helping the full time public works staff patch potholes and fill cracks, help run the pool, run the garbage truck, and perform a variety of other summer programs.
A loss of students will be felt by both recreation and public works.
The only other option for the Town to prevent service cuts in lieu of the Canada Summer Jobs Program funding would be an additional tax increase to residents of at least one per cent; however, a tax increase is not something that council wants to entertain.
Town council and administration should know within a few weeks whether or not funding, if any, has been approved and will be looking to finalize summer service levels at that point.
Despite no funding in place, administration is going to begin to hire summer students, because if they wait much longer, they run the risk of not finding any students to hire if the funding does come through, council was told.