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Rare deadlock vote has church waiver request denied

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Taber Times

By Trevor Busch
Taber Times
tbusch@tabertimes.com

The result of a voting deadlock on town council, Knox United Church has been denied a waiver of their 2015-2016 fall supper facility rental fees for the Community Centre Auditorium.

At their Jan. 25 meeting, town council voted 3-3 to defeat a motion accepting the information provided by Knox United Church delegation regarding a Community Grant Application for waiver of fees associated with rental of the auditorium facility for 2015 and 2016, and granting their request.

Coun.(s) Randy Sparks, Andrew Prokop and Rick Popadynetz voted in favour of the motion, while Coun.(s) Joe Strojwas, Jack Brewin, and Laura Ross-Giroux voted in opposition. Mayor Henk DeVlieger was absent from the meeting (under the Municipal Government Act, when tie votes with municipal councils occur they result in a defeated motion).

“The supper itself has been quite efficient. It’s to try to support the church and youth programming within the church,” said Roy Reti, who headed the Knox United Church delegation as chair of the fall supper committee, prior to the vote. “Any leftover food after the supper we take to Safe Haven Women’s Shelter, and they really seem to appreciate that.”

According to Reti, funds raised during the Nov. 1, 2015 event and the upcoming Nov. 6, 2016 event, will be used (and are currently) to support youth programming such as Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT), Boy Scouts, Sunday school programming, and community outreach efforts. Between 600 and 800 people are usually expected to attend.

According to administration, “typically in the past the Town of Taber has not received an application from the Knox United Church for a waiver for the costs associated with the rental of the facility”.

“We have several churches that have fall suppers, or annual suppers. Is this setting a precedent then, that we’re going to have to give waivers to all the churches?” questioned Ross-Giroux.

While not necessarily an irreversible legal precedent, CAO Greg Birch warned granting the request could be viewed as a favourable development for other community organizations.

“The straight out answer is no, you don’t set any precedents. That said, it’s a lot harder to say no when you’ve said yes to one. We’re very worried that if this group gets it, there are a lot of good causes out there, and you could see a lot.”

Knox United Church was seeking $240 for the 2015 event, followed by a waiver $247.50 for upcoming 2016 event, representing roughly 10 per cent of their operating budget for both events. Total costs associated with the event are approximately $1,714.25.

According to administration’s assessment of 2016 rates, the cost associated with rental of the facility amounts to $514.25, not $404.25 as requested by the group.

Around 150 volunteers are involved with the annual event, involved in food preparation, set up, serving and clean up.

Commenting on the new town process involved in securing community event waivers for town facilities, Sparks noted these kinds of organizations need to be aware of these changes.

“This is an awesome request, it’s very good that the Knox United Church has approached council about this funding, but in the future all of the groups need to be aware of the process that’s involved,” said Sparks.

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