A discussion broke out among Alberton councillors during their regular meeting last Wednesday night regarding a request for funding by the Rainy River Future Development Corp. for the 2006-07 fiscal year.
RRFDC is asking for $7 per capita to help fund their services, with an increase next year to $10 per capita.
“Ten dollars per capita is a pretty steep price,” remarked Reeve Mike Hammond, noting Alberton would be paying out nearly $7,000 this year. “And there’s no direct benefit to our community.”
“They can’t help us out,” echoed Coun. Mike Ford. “We live on a swamp. There’s no room here for economic development.”
“I think we should support their request,” countered Coun. Barb Cournoyer, citing the RRFDC is a good service that can help the district.
“It’s not about how they can help us, but how they can help the district as a whole and we’re a part of the district,” agreed Coun. Louis Collier.
He noted that if council agreed to support the RRFDC, and for instance Emo benefited from their services, that could possibly help Alberton, as well.
“And that would be worth it,” he stressed.
“But $7,000 is a lot of money,” warned Coun. Ford. “I can’t seem to justify spending that much money on it.”
He indicated it would be different if the money was going towards something more tangible. “We won’t really be able to see where the money is going,” he argued.
But Coun. Collier said if the RRFDC is not supported by the district, it will just be another service we’ll have to go to southern Ontario for.
Coun. Doug Mitchell said he didn’t understand why the RRFDC was asking district municipalities for money when it is a government-funded service.
Coun. Ford then seemed to change his mind, announcing he “could go either way on this one.”
“I’m on board for it for this year, but not next year,” he decided.
A formal decision was not made, with further discussion being tabled until next month’s regular council meeting.
Alberton has not made a payment to the RRFDC since 2002.
In other business last Wednesday night, Alberton council gave enthusiastic informal approval to an idea from Clerk-Tresurer/CAO Dawn Hayes regarding a program to reimburse residents for all or part of the cost of a library card.
Non-residents of Fort Frances must pay $50 to acquire a library card for the local public library.
“Council could actually encourage literacy, and promote lifetime education and mental stimulation, in the township by instituting a program,” Hayes’ memo stated.
Council agreed it would be an excellent way to promote literacy, as well as help to achieve the township’s vision set out in its strategic plan.
A protocol for the program will be drafted up to be reviewed at the next meeting.
“[Residents] will get something for their tax dollars,” Coun. Ford stressed.
It was note a program to assist with the cost of a library card would benefit everyone in the community, rather than township covering the non-resident cost of minor hockey, which doesn’t benefit everyone.
Also at last Wednesday’s meeting, Alberton council:
•approved payment of $55,448.57 to general accounts and $3,853.26 to payroll;
•heard a report from Coun. Collier regarding the Rainy River District Municipal Association’s annual meeting last month in Bergland;
•discussed road and railway crossing conditions with roads superintendent Larry George;
•reviewed the operating budgets from the committee of adjustment, the volunteer fire department, and the recreation committee;
•discussed a suggestion by Dan Mattson regarding more lighting in the township;
•passed the 2006 Annual Municipal Accessibility Plan;
•resolved to support a request from Niagara Region to support the province’s removing the obligation for funding social programs through the municipal property tax base;
•agreed to send Coun. Cournoyer, Hayes, Blair Lowey, and Phil Gavel (if available) to the Northwestern planning conference March 28 in Thunder Bay;
•agreed to send Hayes to the municipal election training session March 21 in Dryden;
•agreed to send Reeve Hammond, and Couns. Cournoyer, Collier, and Mitchell to the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s annual conference April 26-29 in Thunder Bay;
•agreed to send Hayes and Peter Spuzak (if available) to Line Fences Act training March 27 in Thunder Bay;
•agreed to send Beth Logue, administrative assistant, to a Microsoft Publishing workshop; and
•appointed Lorne Caul and Ed Stromness as recreational volunteers.
Alberton council’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at the municipal office.