Changes to funding procedures may cut potential liabilities for county

Ponoka County restructures funding request processes.

Restructuring the process on how Ponoka County accepts and approves funding requests will likely reduce the chances of the county being on the hook for or losing money on incomplete or failed projects.

Previously, Ponoka County has provided contributions to various community organizations on an annual basis as well as to assist in the construction of various projects.

However, that policy has in the past left the county open to having to fork over more cash to finish a project or, in at least one case, lose the money it provided as a result of the project not being completed.

That is why last month councillor Doug Weir proposed the county look at implementing a new policy to cover community project donations, which was presented at their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and was approved.

The new policy provides for the county to still maintain their annual contributions to the various organizations they presently support with no real changes on how it has been done previously. The changes come in what the county will consider when a request is made to supply funding for a capital project or function.

Capital requests will normally be received from only the organizations the county is presently partners with, though that doesn’t mean other groups would be left out of the mix, with requests separated into minor ($25,000 or less) and major (more than $25,000) categories.

All major project requests would have to include a complete breakdown of the project’s cost and funding, a formal statement confirming the commitment from the lending institution if the county is asked to finance their portion of the request and a business plan with operating and capital budgets if council wants one. Funding for such projects may also require a construction progress schedule and funds would only be released upon a resolution of council.

In addition, the county would provide provisional funding approval if the request includes grant funding support from other levels of government and funds would only be released following approval of the grant.

County thanked

Rod Schaff, operator of Central Alberta Raceways near Rimbey, attended the meeting to express his thanks to the county for the support that was provided, in several ways, during this past season.

“We could not have done it without the help from the county. Thank you very much,” he told council during his presentation.

He added the past season was an impressive one that saw the facility is way in the black financially, a positive that will make next season a bit easier given the tightening up of the economy resulting in the dropoff in sponsorship.

Schaff remains hopeful they will be able to maintain their sponsorship funding levels, including the assistance from the county, while looking forward to better things on the horizon that could eventually lead to the facility running on their own and being able to provide some funding back to the county.

Rimoka changes

Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin provided council with an update on the changes at the Rimoka Housing Foundation, which the county participates as a member of their board.

Recently, it was announced that the Bethany Group a non-profit organization that manages as well as owns several seniors care homes throughout the province was terminating their management agreement with the foundation, which owns three supportive and independent living facilities in Rimbey and Ponoka.

McLauchlin, who is also the foundation’s board chair, explained that Rimoka has since hired Wendy Sheppard as the interim chief administrative officer. Sheppard has been with Rimoka for the last 18 years and will oversee the managerial transition back to local management of the organization that has 65 staff.

“There is a long list of tasks ahead to move the layered management system that was in place,” he told council as part of his individual councillor report.

“Right now, the board is happy with the way the transition is going and the how accommodating Bethany has been in support of this transfer of administrative processes.”

The board is also pleased to be going back to running the operations locally and McLauchlin also indicated Sheppard has been doing all of the heavy lifting for Rimoka to date on the replacement of their Rimbey facility.