Thursday, January 21, 2016

Province and Town of Pincher Creek increase FCSS funding

Toni Lucas

Council for the Town of Pincher Creek met with FCSS Director David Green during the regular council meeting on Monday, January 11, regarding the Family and Community Support Services Funding Agreement with the province of Alberta for 2016. The funding model for FCSS is that 80% is contributed by the province, with 20% to be funded by the municipalities. As the provincial government has increased their contribution, the municipalities have a larger contribution to put forward to match their 20% responsibility.

The town approved the budget amount for FCSS for $26,803 for 2016 in 2014 when the budget was released. A new funding agreement was received for January 1 to December 31, 2016 from the province which requires a municipal contribution of $28,563, to match the provincial funding of $114,253, making a total of $142,816. Green explained "In 2015, we received the 2015 funding agreement. In April, that funding agreement was amended, when the new government kicked in several millions of dollars more to FCSS across the province. So the funding agreement was amended, however the ministry waived the municipal contribution for that increase because budget process were already underway, it was too late."

According to Green Pincher Creek FCSS currently holds back approximately $20,000 for a contingency fund. In previous years FCSS was penalized for having a surplus, Green explained the rules have changed. "It's our understanding that from this year on, with approval from the minister, we can carry forward any surplus." FCSS has agreements with the Town of Pincher Creek, the Village of Cowley and the MD of Pincher Creek. "Under the terms of the regional agreement, we do the administration out of this office."

Councillor Doug Thornton said "So the bottom line is that the government is giving us approximately $9,000 more dollars for 2016, and all we have to do is come up with approximately a little under $2,000 to pay our share for that?" Green said there was roughly an additional $3,000 of municipal funding required.

When asked his opinion, Green said, "My suggestion would be that the agreement be signed. About 176 of 206 programs across the province have already signed their agreements." He explained "It all has to do with the fact that the government made a decision to waive the matching 20% requirement for the fiscal year April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016. The governments fiscal year does not line up with the FCSS January to December fiscal year, and that was the core of the problem.  There has been some overlap, there has been some discussion, there's been some disagreement, but obviously the majority of communities recognize that the funding needs to flow, and quickly."

Council voted unanimously to approve and sign the 2016 agreement.

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