By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
The two larger towns in Paintearth County want some more funding for recreation.
Sending a joint letter to Paintearth County council, Castor Mayor Richard Elhard and Coronation Mayor Ron Checkel sent a letter requesting that the County open negotiations with the two municipalities to increase recreation funding.
The letter cited an argument for a funding increase due to statistics collected by the communities that show that users of the recreation facilities are 55 per cent from the County, and only 45 per cent from the towns.
According to the letter, the current funding from the County only makes up 21 per cent of operational funding.
“We are requesting an increase of 29 per cent of our recreation spending to bring the cost-share to a 50/50 split,” wrote the two mayors in the joint letter.
“Which is equal to $135,000 in additional funding for each community.”
The letter further stated that if the County were unwilling to negotiate the recreation funding agreement, both the municipalities would consider bringing in a “two-tier” funding model, with one user rate for Town residents, and one for County residents, though no specifics were given as to what that would look like.
“Our community intention is to make our programming as accessible as possible, but we cannot continue to run such shortfalls in our operations due to recreation,” continued the letter.
“I felt that the letter was extremely pointed, and almost hostile,” said Reeve Stan Schulmeister, a sentiment shared by several council members, but not all.
“In all fairness, it’s been 11 years since (recreation funding) has been looked at,” said Coun. George Glazier.
“We may as well discuss it.”
According to County of Paintearth Director of Corporate Services Lana Roth, the County providing the full funding requested would equate to a two per cent increase in ratepayer taxes.
Council has directed County administration to request that the two mayors appear before them during their next council meeting, find out what a two-tiered fee structure would look like, and find out what funding looks like for counties of similar circumstances.
One question came up querying whether the County, including all the municipalities within it, has the population base to support all the recreation facilities currently in use.
“Do we have enough residents to maintain two arenas, two pools, and five curling rinks?” asked Coun. Maurice Wiart.
“I think we need to keep some control of what we’re giving out. We need to see where the money is being spent – this goes onto our ratepayers.”
More to come.