Council learns where cash will come from for over-budget grants

Over $25,000 in extra spending approved in April

KENILWORTH – Economic development officer Dale Small has found out where the cash will come from to fund six over-budget grant and donation requests this year.

At an April 17 meeting, $50,534 from the township’s Grants and Donations Community Development Program was approved for 32 community groups and public organizations.

Already that amount was several hundred over the approved 2023 budget of $50,000 for the program.

But council voted at the meeting to overspend by another $24,786 to support six first-time applicants, despite not knowing from where the money would come.

The applications included requests to help fund new playground equipment at Kenilworth Public School ($12,500) and Arthur Public School ($5,000); $2,500 for a historical display at the Arthur and Area Community Centre; $836 in waived fees for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ use of the Mount Forest and District Sports Complex; $1,950 in waived fees for Hospice Wellington; and $2,000 to fund programming at the Personal Empowerment Studio.

In a report to council on May 23, Small recommended councillors approve covering the donations with cash from the Community Improvement Program ($4,500), miscellaneous operating budget ($2,786), and council-directed projects ($17,500) budgets.

Echoing comments made at the April meeting, councillor Sherry Burke said she didn’t support going over budget.

In April, she suggested township staff look for alternative funding sources for playground equipment at Kenilworth Public School, and said she would have a hard time exceeding the budget by nearly $25,000.

Burke was the sole dissenter in a vote that ultimately approving the extra spending.

At the May meeting, Burke said she wants the township to explore purchasing the parcel of Upper Grand District School Board land where playground equipment would be installed, “so that the families that live in the homes adjacent to the school have the access to use that equipment.” 

Her comment followed a delegation at the same meeting by school board trustee Robin Ross, who suggested public money would be better spent on programming and sports equipment than underutilized playgrounds intended only for school students.

Council voted 4-1, with Burke opposed, to approve the recommended funding sources. 

The total spent by council this year on the township’s grants and donations program is $75,320.