Local groups pitch funding requests to city council

By Charlene Tebbutt
November 6, 2018 - 6:14pm

Local arts, culture and service groups made their funding pitches to city council Monday evening as councillors get set to debate the 2019 budget numbers later this week. 

Council members heard from a number of local groups at the public consultation session.Councillors will debate the proposed budget numbers Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

The draft budget includes a proposal for a 3.9 per cent property tax increase next year.  

The Mann Art Gallery is requesting $100,000 for 2019 – an increase of $25,000 – in part to help fund a visual arts education program which is at risk of being cut due to the loss of a long-time community grant. Director/curator Jessie Campbell told council that the program works with children, seniors, and emerging artists amongst others, and the loss of the program could affect the organization’s ability to apply for new grants and attract corporate sponsors.

“In comparison to the municipal funding levels and scope of mid-size public art galleries in Saskatchewan, the Mann Art Gallery's limited budget and staffing is evident,” the gallery wrote in a letter to council.

The Prince Albert Historical Society is also requesting a funding increase in the new budget, asking council for a hike in funding for staff salaries, and the addition of a part-time community outreach coordinator. The group is asking city council for just under $22,000 in additional funding, with Historical Society President Connie Gerwing telling paNOW that the outreach coordinator would also help with marketing of the museum.

“We’re going to have a big year in 2019,” Gerwing said. “Everybody should come and see what we’ve been doing in terms of our renovations as well and changing of the displays; it’s not the place it was that stayed the same for many, many years.”

The historical society is working to renovate part of the museum to feature more First Nations and Metis history, and has projects planned for the former Nisbet Church and blockhouse and Diefenbaker House. Gerwing said at least half of the wood from the church and blockhouse will be repurposed for a new display on the river bank, and said more information will be coming to council soon.

Over at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library, Director Alex Juorio told paNOW they're asking for a slight increase, to bump the annual amount from $1,993,830, up from $1,988,860 in 2018. While the library has undergone some renovations, Jurio said the library is in an older building where there is always something that can be replaced, such as furniture or flooring.

“We’ve developed a status quo budget for 2019,” Juorio said. “We’ve heard the call from the City to keep costs trimmed to a minimum … we’re in an older building that needs some TLC.”

The acting CEO of Prince Albert Tourism, Linda Carter, asked council to reinstate the organization’s funding to the 2017 level when she spoke to council Monday. The City cut $50,000 in funding in 2018, which Carter said resulted in staff hours being cut, including for post-secondary students.

Carter asked for the 2019 budget numbers to be restored to the tune of $140,930.

The Community Service Centre is also requesting a funding increase to wage increases, said CEO Bill Powalinsky. Use of the paratransit service is up, he said, and the organization is seeking just over $16,000 more for 2019.

Powalinsky said the CSC has also looked at the possibility of offering weekend bus service for seniors in Prince Albert, but would need another bus and driver. He said the organization has been promoting the City of Prince Albert’s public transportation options as well.

Representatives with the Prince Albert Arts Board told council they are not requesting a funding increase over the $25,000 received for 2018.


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On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt

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