Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grants not about political gain

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It is wrong to say there is no oversight of councillor allowances (Mockery made, Feb. 14). It is political to say spending of councillor allowances is purely for political gain.

Every councillor receives a 73-page councillor representation allowance policy document. There are criteria and limitations on how a councillor can use these tax dollars. We are given certain categories of expenditures including grants to community groups. The transactions of each councillor are posted to a web page and every year the transactions are audited for compliance.

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Each ward has unique issues to deal with. Coun. Mayes has part of the Seine River, and my ward has issues like being able to afford bus fare. These issues do not necessarily have any other funding mechanisms. Yes, the land-dedication reserve can be used on public park and other land, but there is no ability to fund operations out of this fund. The city does not clean the river.

Bus tickets, food security, and efforts by young people in the Mynarski ward are examples of initiatives that have no funding source other than the per-capita grant program and councillor representation allowance.

Everyone should note the per-capita grant program works just like the councillor representation allowance. I decide who gets a grant and how much, not councillors Mike Pagtakhan and Devi Sharma. They in turn decide how their portion of per-capita grant is spent. This kind of decision is also in place with the community incentive grants and land-dedication reserve grant program despite first being vetted by the public service who make a recommendation.

It is the work of volunteers and/or support staff that get the tax supported grants for good causes. No matter who is elected into a political office, they will give out grants to their residents and organizations. So, it doesn't matter who you vote for necessarily.

On city council there is a difference of opinion on what cause should receive financial support, if any. As councillors for our wards, we can use these tax dollars to meet the community's needs in a small way. Why should it bother other councilors that we are serving our communities?

ROSS EADIE

Mynarski Ward

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 19, 2013 A10

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