South Dundas completed its 2021 budget process last week and among the themes to come out of the meeting was the need to acknowledge the contributions of the municipality to area groups. This came up when council deliberated awarding grants to community groups.
While staff is looking to see how it can support the $30,000 request for the J. W. MacIntosh Community Support Services through an alternative means like COVID-19 relief money, many other requests were rejected by council. The reason – they already receive regular support. Among the groups that asked, but received no new financial contributions: the Iroquois Lawn Bowling Club, Community Food Share, and the Friends of the Forward House.
IBS asked for $500 in financial support, but the argument was made at council that the lawn bowling club has a small membership base and already has utility costs paid by South Dundas. CFS requested $8,000 to cover half the price of a piece of equipment to unload palettes. The food bank has rent-free use of the space in the Morrisburg Arena, and their utility costs paid by the municipality. FOFH wanted nearly $4,000 for basement reinforcement in the two century old building. The group had been told when it presented its business plan last fall to seek outside funding.
Those groups, and many others in South Dundas already receive support from the residents through municipal taxation. In many instances community groups and sports programs receive no-charge rental of municipal spaces, insurance coverage for events, utility costs, lawn mowing, or in-kind work. For many groups this amounts to thousands of dollars that do not have to be found elsewhere. The municipality, and more importantly the citizens thereof, deserve to be recognized for that support. It is not an inexpensive line item buried in some slush account, it is real dollars spent by the community, in the community, for the community’s benefit.
There are many groups who receive less or no support from the municipality. Those groups seek outside support, grow membership, sell sponsorships and look for other financial means to support their activities.
Recognizing municipal contributions is not a the tip of the hat to South Dundas council, administration, or staff, but to the residents who believe in the work that is being done. That support is measurable and appreciated.