Jeff Green | Nov 03, 2005
Feature Article - November 3, 2005
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Feature ArticleNovember 3, 2005
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Frontenac CFDCoversteps its bounds
Editorial by Jeff Green
Everyone involved seems to be satisfied with the granting arrangement between the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation, North Frontenac Township and the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association that was confirmed last week (see “EODF grants come with conditions” on page 1).
The FCFDC has been able to disburse $10,000 for a project they like; they have created a partnership between North Frontenac and the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA); and they might just have facilitated a $4,000 boon to LOLTA, an organisation with goals that are similar to their own.
LOLTA stands to receive $4,000, which they badly need to carry out their programs.
The Township of North Frontenac is fine with this arrangement because it means they will receive $10,000 that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. As for donating $4,000 to the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association, they are fine with that too. After all, it is not the municipality’s money that is being spent.
Four thousand dollars, coincidentally, is the amount of money North Frontenac Township used to donate annually to LOLTA from their own budget. They stopped doing so two years ago because they felt they weren’t getting value for their money, but maintained a $125 membership in the organisation. Since that time LOLTA has been slowly regaining favour with North Frontenac Council.
I have two problems with this entire scenario.
First, I don’t think that one government’s grant money should be used as the basis for another government’s rebate program.
Let me illustrate. Let’s say Business “A” wants to do some marketing. They are told that if they spend $10,000 of their own money, later on they can receive a $4,000 rebate from the province. For $6,000 spent, they get $10,000 worth of marketing.
Business “B”, on the other hand, applies for a federal grant. They get $10,000. They then apply for a $4,000 provincial rebate and they get it. They spend nothing and can mount a $14,000 marketing campaign, or they can mount a $10,000 marketing campaign and spend $4,000 on anything they want.
Is this fair to Business “A”?
My second, and more serious problem with what happened here lies in the fact that the Board of Directors of the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation have, in effect, told a township council how to spend the township’s own money.
They didn’t say, “Here is $10,000 and you can get another $4,000 by accessing OSTAR-RED. Then you will have $14,000 to spend on your project, or you can spend the $10,000 we gave you on the project, and the rest wherever you see fit”
They said, “You can only get $10,000 from us if you commit to applying for the $4,000 rebate. And if you get this money, you must give it to the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association, not for this marketing project, but for LOLTA’s own budget.”
This is not something a not-for-profit board should be saying to a council that is publicly elected.
In my view the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation has overstepped their legitimate role in this case in making this kind of demand. I also think North Frontenac Council should have stood up to the FCFDC and said no.
This might be a small case, but to me it is symptomatic of a larger problem. Municipal councils are public officials. Everything they do is subject to public scrutiny. While not-nor profit corporations are public bodies and handle public money, they are not subject to anywhere near the same amount of public scrutiny.
The federal government, which is often far removed from the public, should show some respect, and deal with municipalities directly, in a non-coercive way.
The Board of Directors of the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation should rescind their demand that North Frontenac Township donate $4,000 to the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association if they apply for and receive a rebate from OSTAR-RED. Let North Frontenac Council decide where to spend this $4,000 gift from provincial taxpayers. -JG