Cornwall grants to outside agencies under review

Cornwall CAO Maureen Adams explains how a review of grants could take place as city council approves forming a committee to review the process on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A city council committee will be formed to look into how the City of Cornwall hands out tax dollars to outside agencies.

City council agreed Monday night to strike an ad hoc committee to look into the grants to outside agencies, also known as community agencies.

The city gave out $50,720 to the Cornwall French Culture Center (Centre Culturel de Cornwall), Your Arts Council, Cornwall BMX Club, Agape Center, African Caribbean & International Association of Eastern Ontario, Encore Seniors Center and Waterfest this year.

There had been $122,830 in requests.

For in-kind services (city manpower or materials or fees waived), $80,300 was approved for 10 different events or groups.

A number of councillors expressed concerns about how quickly the review could be done before 2020 budget talks, which typically happen between January and March.

CAO Maureen Adams said the committee could come back early with a dollar amount for the budget while groups could make applications “parallel to the budget process.” Alternatively, Adams said there could also be two application intakes during the year.

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth said he didn’t have a problem with putting a “placeholder” number in the budget but he wanted to “emphasize to the public that just because there’s a number in a budget somewhere doesn’t mean we have to spend the max of that.”

The city has not been taking grant applications pending the review.

At least three members of council were interested in being on the ad hoc committee.

Mayor Bernadette Clement says the grants to outside agencies is “a process that needs to change” and has been an “awkward, uncomfortable process” in the past.