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Council gives FFMHA break on charges

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Town council will give the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association a break by waiving $1,632.43 in finance fee charges owed by the organization.

While council had received a recommendation from the Administration and Finance executive committee at its meeting Monday night to cease further interest charges on the amount owing, with the expectation the FFMHA would pay the town back in August, Mayor Roy Avis said he felt the town should waive the charges altogether.

Mayor Avis noted the FFMHA is not only a non-profit organization “working for the betterment of our community,” but also recently underwent a nearly complete changeover in board members who have been getting its finances in order.

Coun. Wendy Brunetta, who sits on the Administration and Finance executive committee, said the rationale of the committee's recommendation to delay payment of the charge—but not waive it altogether—is that they did not want to set a precedent.

“You have to think about fairness in terms of all the other people who rent the ice facilities, like the figure skating club,” she argued.

“They pay interest if they're behind in their payments,” she noted.

“We've never waived off any interest for a non-profit group for the last 15 years so you are setting a precedent here a bit,” Fort Frances CAO Doug Brown said later, reiterating Coun. Brunetta's point.

But Coun. June Caul seconded the mayor's motion to amend the recommendation, noting the FFMHA “is an integral part in what makes our Memorial Sportsplex tick.”

“It brings in great revenue throughout the year, and for many years has,” she remarked.

"It also brings a lot of business to the town as a whole.

“This amount of money is just giving them a bit of a break on what they owe," Coun. Caul added. "I don't think it will break our bank.”

She also didn't feel council was setting a precedent.

“Each individual issue is taken at its [face] value and decided separately,” Coun. Caul explained.

“I kind of think that it isn't as big a deal as some people thought it might be.”

Council ultimately voted in favour of Mayor Avis' motion, with only Coun. Brunetta being against it.

As first reported two weeks ago, the FFMHA had paid its outstanding ice rental fees for 2017-18 in the amount of $69,488.60 but still outstanding were finance fee charges incurred in the amount of $1,632.43.

The FFMHA said it was unable to pay these charges until registration for the new season opened and its income stream started up again, and assured the town of prompt payment come August.

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