County to contribute more to ‘urbans’ for recreation, culture under new policy

Red Deer County councillors voted unanimously to amend the county’s policy regarding support to urban municipalities

Red Deer County councillors voted unanimously to amend the county’s policy regarding support to urban municipalities for recreation and culture during their regular meeting Dec. 18. Agreements signed under the previous five-year policy had expired.

The policy addresses decision-making procedures when reviewing funding requests from urban municipalities. County administration hoped to create a fairer funding formula with the new policy.

The current formula distributes $390,000 among the county’s seven largest communities, with Sylvan Lake receiving 20 per cent ($78,000) of the total.

The new policy will increase the county’s expense from $390,000 to $627,020 in 2013 increasing to $718,775 in 2016.

Part of the reason for the change was the inequity of the current policy, according to a written report by Jo-Ann Symington, the county’s Community Services Manager.

“Currently the county distributes the equivalent of approximately $20 per capita to its urban municipalities on a facility basis. This funding does not take into account county usage. For instance, Innisfail and Sylvan Lake receive the same amount, even though county residents make up approximately 35 per cent of the market population of Innisfail compared to 18 per cent of the market population of Sylvan Lake.”

Under the policy the county will enter into intermunicipal recreation and culture agreements with all of its urban municipalities.

The new formula will give each community a base amount, determined by size, with additional funding given on a per capita basis. Following this new formula, Sylvan Lake will receive a $50,000 base, as a town with a population over 5,000, plus $20 per capita for the first three years of the policy and $25 for the last two years. The per capita funding reflects the rural population served which would provide Sylvan Lake with a total of $97,640 in the first three years.

“The grant signifies a mutual understanding of the reciprocal role both parties play in the provision and support of regional recreation and culture services,” states the policy.

Symington’s report noted the proposed funding model was circulated to urban municipalities for review and comment. Of the seven, five supported the funding model, Penhold expressed concerns and “to date no comments have been received from Sylvan Lake”.

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