Anyone who has pre-purchased a triple-A recommendation can relate to how Midland council is feeling these days.
At a recent committee of the whole meeting, Midland council addressed lingering concerns for a particular item that was raised during the 2022 budget discussions at the start of the year.
The Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS), a not-for-profit organization advocating business attraction and retention in the towns of Penetanguishene and Midland and the townships of Tay and Tiny which they’ve branded as ‘The Four Pillars.’ requested $168,814 from the 2022 town budget.
Council praised EDCNS following their presentation, but questions were raised by councillors Bill Gordon and Cody Oschefski as to what the organization has accomplished. With no clear response, EDCNS chair Ted Salisbury was advised to return to council with a clear output of the organization’s needs and costs.
The $168,814 request was a repeat from their 2021 budget request for the same amount one year prior. At that meeting, Gordon requested EDCNS financial records from the organization. MidlandToday had also faced similar difficulties trying to acquire financial statements and budget information in 2020.
On their 2022 request, approval was given for EDCNS with council hesitantly opting to fund the organization with the provision that funds be withheld if information wasn’t brought forward in upcoming months.
Council carried a motion at a recent committee of the whole meeting to have staff sit down with EDCNS to determine a reasonable amount of the budget request to be held back, as the not-for-profit produces an update prior to July to get the full funding restored.
“I think that there definitely needs to be clarity and fairly quickly, because EDCNS is in the process of hiring an EDO (executive director of operations),” cautioned Coun. Cher Cunningham. “More clarity and a good dose of courtesy would really be valuable on this.”
CAO David Denault assured council that the EDCNS could provide requested information before July, noting that it was in all parties’ best interests to resolve the issue expediently.
Mayor Stewart Strathearn asserted that the intent wasn’t to withdraw funding, but to understand how that funding was being spent.
“It’s my understanding that during the budget deliberations, there was some concern about: Key performance indicators; what the actual budget was by, for example, business retention and expansion (BR&E); and moneys going to Simcoe County for the Heart of Georgian Bay work that they’ll be undertaking,” explained Strathearn.
“Not that we’re looking for each line item in the budget, but generally if you’re switching to BR&E then what is that likely to look like? Is the emphasis still on the four pillars?” he asked.
Coun. Bill Gordon echoed Strathearn’s comments. “These are the kinds of things we’re looking for from any agency coming with their hat in hand looking for substantial tax funding every year, and we just want them to have that in place.”
Deputy Mayor Mike Ross felt it was very responsible of council to find out exactly how resident money was being spent.
Denault reiterated the importance of the economic development group.
“It’s not only a matter of understanding what EDCNS can deliver; it’s also how we can support them now, because this is something that truly benefits all of North Simcoe, all of our municipalities.”
Penetanguishene council approved a 2022 budget request by EDCNS for $81,665 late last year. Tiny Township has consistently budgeted $87,000 for EDCNS for several years, as has Tay Township at $67,000.
Details on the 2022 operating and capital budgets can be found on the budget page of the Town of Midland website.
Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.
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