Mono shrugs off donation decision, sends to committee

March 14, 2024   ·   0 Comments


Mono council found itself in a tight spot regarding a monetary donation, given an earlier decision to refrain from donations this year.

Tight finances complicated the process this year to ink a municipal operating and capital budget. In order to lessen the tax increase to residents, it was agreed to not give donations this year.

Council agreed during its March 12 meeting to put the decision to donate $1,000 towards the 2024 Headwaters Farm Fresh Guide in the hands of the town’s climate action plan committee.

“You’re putting the town staff committee in a very interesting situation,” said Michael Dunmore, the town’s CAO. “We set our work plan for the year. We provide presentations to council at budget time.

“If I summarize and simplify this, you’re asking us to pull from the reserve contribution that you’ve created or change our work plan. It’s putting staff in a very interesting situation, to say the least.”

The farm guide has been pitched as a means of supporting the Mono Climate Action Plan, agricultural sustainability, and food security.

A letter from the Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance asking for the donation states that the funding, by way of the guide, will support local farms and promote sustainable food practices.

Eleven of the 34 farms featured in the guide are in Mono, “showing the town’s central role in regional food production,” according to the letter.

Costs for the guide’s production are shared with another publication.

Mono’s contribution will be funded from its climate change and environment budget as council had eliminated any type of donation in this year’s municipal operating and capital budget.

Councillor Melinda Davie asked what was the “point of going through the exercise for weeks and weeks and months, actually,” of striving for the lowest tax increase as possible for residents?

And now council is giving away tax dollars that were in such short supply just a short time ago.

Council had taken to shaving small expense items from this year’s municipal budget, she said.

“We removed small, little things that were irritating that they were little, but little things add up and so it made us be able to balance (the budget),” she said.

Climate initiatives are indeed important, Davie said. But is giving money to a farm guide the best use of the climate budget?

“With respect to our climate budget, we whittled that down,” Davie said. “We had all sorts of very great initiatives that we had spent a great deal of staff time finding.”

Coun. Elaine Capes questioned how the farm guide fits with the climate committee’s goals.

Dunmore said there’s $1,000 in a reserve fund that was for the preparation of a climate change action plan.

“It was a reserve for outside consultants with respect to that,” he said. “There also is a living snow fence budget line.”

There’s about $3,000 set aside for snow fencing.

“There is funding in there,” Dunmore said. “However, as Coun. Davie has said, these are all set up and we’re trying to reserve for the future to do things in 2025 and 2026.”

Capes said she encouraged money to be put into a fund for climate change initiatives.

“We are ignoring that and we have been and we need to pay attention to that,” Capes said. “You can’t have human wellness without climate and environmental wellness.”

Coun. Ralph Manktelow said Mono has much to gain through supporting the farm guide. Orangeville, with a single farm, even donated $1,000 to the publication. There are 11 farms in Mono.

“We get a huge bang for the buck here,” he said. “I think we need to rethink this.”

“Yes, it’s a small amount,” Davie said. “But we really learned during our budget discussion that those small amounts can add up.”

“I think we need to differentiate between donations to organizations because they come, they ask, we give them money versus the amounts that we give to something like this where we actually get something in return,” Mayor John Creelman said. “We get a direct benefit.”

“When you sit here and say we’re making hard decisions, then you have to follow through on those hard decisions,” Davie said. “And the hard decision was that this is not a year and a time for us to be giving away money that we don’t have.”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.