The Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre off Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country.File Photo/Rocky Mountain Outlook

Kananaskis Improvement District is reviewing a policy that will guide the municipality in providing donations to support community programs, organizations, events and activities.

The new policy would repeal a directive established by KID council in 2004 and aims to set a maximum funding disbursement amount, with funding allotment established year-by-year and included in the municipal budget.

“There’s no guarantee that council would be putting money aside for that year through donations, but if it was, council’s approval of the allotment made would be within the municipal budget,” said CAO Kieran Dowling.

Source funding would be approved through annual budgeting, working with the budget and audit committee to ensure appropriate amounts. Designated funding would come from provincial and other grants first, KID operating or surplus revenue second and taxation revenue third.

The policy outlines a fair annual process for fund allocation, submission review and donation approval, while establishing a uniform timeline to review submissions, according to a staff report.

“The purpose of the policy is to provide structure, flexibility, and accountability in the way annual charitable donations are disbursed by KID council,” states the report. “This supports fiscal policy of council, ensuring funds are disbursed in accordance with an intent to limit burden on tax revenues.”

Administration recommended setting $10,000 as a maximum but said it is up to council how much it wants to allocate for donations annually.

Coun. Darren Enns said he supports the intent of the policy but suggested setting a cap of $20,000 as a maximum annual amount per budget and lowering per contribution maximums to $7,000 to spread donations more evenly.

“My mindset behind that is it’s nicer to move things around and have wider breadth of coverage than spending it all in one spot,” he said. “I kind of like the idea that if we had three applications, then we could fund them all to the tune of $6,500, or something like that.”

Coun. Darren Robinson said he struggles with the idea of potentially dipping into taxation revenue to fund donations and possible overlap of funding from KID and other businesses and residents that already donate to various non-profits such as Bow Valley Victim Services or the Friends of Kananaskis Country.

“Residents or businesses wouldn’t necessarily know KID was funding a certain group and in those instances, it could be a duplication of a donation,” he said. “Outside of grant monies, funding this is essentially spending ratepayers’ money at our discretion versus allowing them at their discretion, to do this.”

Records of KID council donations date back to 2004, with support for various activities and services, including gala dinner contributions, Bow Valley Victims Services and equipment donations to non-profit organizations. Disbursed amounts vary from $200 to $25,000, while annual donations range from $1,200 to $28,500.

KID council set a directive for distributing donations to individuals and organizations in 2004. The guidelines have undergone revisions over time with no records after 2009.

Prior to 2020, council accepted requests from associations, non-profits, groups and individuals year-round. Requests were reviewed and decided upon in the same month and funds were allocated on a case-by-case basis.

“Once the available funding approved in the operating budget was fully disbursed the program for the year was complete,” states a staff report. “Limited to no reporting requirements were administered.”

Most of the funds were annually approved through the operating budget approval process. Some disbursements, if eligible, were modified at year-end using provincial grants as a funding source.

The new policy focuses on simplifying application procedures and expectations, while upholding responsible accounting and sourcing practices for donated funds within KID.

It also sets out eligibility criteria and a vetting process to ensure funds are distributed fairly and stay within KID.

Coun. Claude Faerden said whenever KID receives a request for donation, he questions whether there is benefit to residents and businesses in the community and feels that should always be the case.

“All I can say is I’m happy to see that there’s some good criteria in place in the document so far,” he said.

The policy is expected to return for discussion when council reconvenes in September, after its August break. Council aims to have the policy in place in time for 2024 budget planning.

By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 09, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Rocky Mountain Outlook   Canmore, Alberta

Comments are Welcome - Use the 'Join the Discussion' above any replies, or 'TheRegional / Chat' below replies. Both links take you to the same place. You will be asked to become a registered user if you are not one already - Posts are moderated