The County of Stettler councillors denied by a 2 to 5 vote a $5,000 funding request from the Village of Donalda to top up its Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) programming. The vote was held at the Jan. 11 regular meeting of council.
The County of Stettler received a letter from the Village of Donalda Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kristie Vallet noting the village’s municipality’s FCSS programming receives no County of Stettler funding, yet key programs may be up to 50 per cent County of Stettler residents.
“The Village of Donalda is requesting consideration for a portion of the County of Stettler’s FCSS funding to be allocated to the village,” stated Vallet’s letter dated Jan. 4.
“Through 2022 the village offered six key programs that saw a high percentage of participation by County of Stettler residents.
“Of the 734 participants in our six key programs, 364 were County of Stettler residents. Participation by county residents accounts for 49.5 per cent of the total participants.”
County of Stettler CAO Yvette Cassidy stated she spoke directly to Vallet and it seemed the village was requesting $5,000 to cover a budget shortfall. It was also noted in the agenda memo that the County of Stettler does not provide FCSS funding to Donalda.
Coun. Paul McKay stated it seems Donalda FCSS brings staff and programs in from outside the County of Stettler which he was not happy about but he knows Donalda is offering popular, effective programming and so made a motion to grant the Village of Donalda $5,000.
Coun. Les Stulberg opposed this, stating the County of Stettler signed a three year agreement with Stettler FCSS and after speaking with Stettler FCSS Stulberg stated that organization has handled over 15,000 clients in 2021, including from Donalda and other villages.
Stulberg stated Stettler FCSS doesn’t request funds from the Village of Donalda for its residents attending programs in Stettler.
Stulberg went further and noted he is opposed to “diluting the pot,” pointing out the County of Stettler for 50 years has chosen Stettler FCSS as its partner and felt that if the County of Stettler wants to boost FCSS spending, it should go to Stettler FCSS.
“It’s the regional one, it’s the one the county has chosen to be its FCSS,” said Stulberg.
Coun. James Nibourg asked Coun. McKay where he wanted the $5,000 to come from and McKay answered from the county FCSS funds. Nibourg responded he was opposed to redirecting funds and pointed out FCSS funding includes strict rules for its use and complex formulas to determine how much each community gets, and removing $5,000 from the local FCSS budget could result in a $25,000 loss. “This is not a very well thought out plan, in my opinion,” said Nibourg. “I don’t agree with this.”
Nibourg also stated that the Stettler FCSS board has made tough budget decisions in response to provincial funding cuts and that if the Village of Donalda has an FCSS budget problem then perhaps they need to look at cutting costs. Nibourg added he wasn’t sure this should have ever came to the County of Stettler in the first place.
Coun. Justin Stevens wanted more information about Donalda FCSS programs and McKay answered that they’re wellness programs out of Bashaw aimed at seniors and include things like home care and mental health.
Stevens wondered if Donalda FCSS could work with Stettler FCSS to perhaps increase efficiencies.
McKay stated Donalda’s CAO is very familiar with Bashaw area programs and perhaps Stettler FCSS should have been contacted first.
Stulberg added that he isn’t sure Donalda has ever approached Stettler FCSS and instead works with Bashaw.
CAO Cassidy stated that when she spoke with Vallet it seemed that the Village of Donalda has indeed reached out to Stettler FCSS in the past.
Coun. Ernie Gendre noted he felt that if an organization has a budget then it has to live within that budget.
Coun. Nibourg noted that this issue is between the FCSS groups and has nothing to do with the County of Stettler.
Coun. Stulberg stated that he felt granting the extra funds to Donalda would encourage other communities to also come forward with funding requests.
Reeve Larry Clarke stated it looked like the Village of Donalda needed to do more investigation, and he would be concerned about any cut to Stettler FCSS funding.
The motion to grant the Village of Donalda $5,000 was defeated by a 2 to 5 vote, Coun. McKay and Dave Grover in favour, the rest opposed.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter