LONG SAULT – South Stormont resident Richard Currier calls it “a nice Christmas gift to everybody.”
Township councillors voted Wednesday night to cut a $10,600 a year ad budget for the South Stormont News (SSN), a fledgling monthly newspaper, that is affiliated with the Cornwall Free News.
After trying unsuccessfully to submit an 800-signature petition in March with the previous council, Currier was happy with the final chapter in the advertising saga.
“The people should be very happy…we’re not wasting that money on duplicate advertising anymore so that’s really what it was about – a duplication of services,” Currier said.
He also believes there’s a lesson from the year-long ordeal.
“The funds never should have been allocated to start with because this was a new business. Give them a chance to get running. Let’s see what their product is and that wasn’t done. So, basically it looked like the township was funding a business, even though it was just advertising. It didn’t look good, the optics weren’t good. I’m very happy with the way that it turned out.”
Everyone on council voted in favour of the cut with the exception of Coun. Richard Waldroff. He abstained from voting after citing a conflict of interest because he’s involved in the potential sale of the paper.
“I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad this council is willing to turn a new leaf and a new chapter,” Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart said before the motion was passed.
Hart says SSN was a duplication of services when the township spent $23,000 on a refurbished website plus advertising in other local papers.
In addition to singling out Currier in the audience during her address, Hart also thanked “all the hard working people that really worked hard to see some justice done here.”
The motion passed with thunderous applause from the audience.
South Stormont News Editor Reg Coffey says the decision is disappointing but the results were a “foregone conclusion.”
“It’s not a surprise but it’s not going to kill our business,” Coffey told Cornwall Newswatch. “The printed version was always a money loser right from the beginning and we did create it at, sort of request of council, the last council.”
Coffey was asked whether this will affect the future of the paper.
“That remains to be seen. It’s $750 a month and, you know, printing a newspaper is very expensive. So, what action we’ll take we’ll have to review our finances and go from here.”
Coffey doesn’t believe the decision will affect other advertisers on SSN. He says they would have left a long time ago after the “aggressive tactics by the deputy mayor and other people in the community.”