City council approves expansion of CAO authority

The City of Wetaskiwin CAO position now has the authority to approve contributions from the city to organizations...

The City of Wetaskiwin CAO position now has the authority to approve contributions from the city to organizations seeking funds for advertising or promotions endeavours, meeting specific criteria.

City council approved the amended draft policy during its March 27 meeting.

The original draft of the policy was previously tabled by council and several amendments were made prior to approval.

This includes the original cap of $10,000 per application being decreased to $3,000 in the second draft, and then increased again to $5,000 for the final approval by council.

Coun. Wayne Neilson felt with too low of a limit any application that came in would surpass the CAO’s authority due to applications asking for more than the $3,000.

“I’m wondering if this motion will achieve what we hope I personally think the limit is too low,” said Neilson.

Coun. Joe Branco was not in favour of raising the $3,000 limit. “Three Thousand dollars, to me, for a town our size, seems very reasonable.”

Coun. Patricia MacQuarrie wants to ensure the policy is about granting authority to the CAO and does not become a cash grab for organizations seeking funding. She added if a request came in for more than $3,000 she feels council should have a say in the matter.

The wording in parts of the policy was also changed, as some councillors were troubled by the word “entities.”

In the policy, entity translated to event; meaning an organization could apply more than once per year providing it was for different events.

Branco wanted to ensure the policy stated applications would be granted subject to budget availability.

“You’ve still got administration looking out for the best interests of the city,” said CAO Dave Burgess.

“Entity to me says organization,” said MacQuarrie. Neilson also had concerns with the use of the word.

Mayor Bill Elliot stated he feels an organization should only be able to apply once per year.

A fifth standard was added to the policy after MacQuarrie stated she would like to see clear guidelines set out for organizations on what city recognition or promotion is to look like for accepted applications, per administrative procedure.

Other standards of the policy state contributions can be approved for either for-profit or not-for-profit organizations in the first draft for-profits were not included provided the CAO is satisfied the city will benefit in one or more of the following ways: the funds will go toward promoting a city event, activity or program that will enhance and promote the city as a whole, the contribution will support an endeavour that will create a beneficial economic opportunity in the community, the contribution will support one or more of the goals or objectives identified within the city’s strategic plan; the CAO may refer requests to council or direction of decision; the CAO will provide council with periodic updates regarding administratively-approved contributions.