Finding $100,000 for a Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid was the catalyst for heated council discussion Tuesday.
© Justin Crann
Coun. Don Mitchell stands to speak on his proposed amendment involving funding for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid Tuesday.
Discussion kicked off when council considered the report from Oct. 7's executive committee meeting, in which the Scotties bid was initially discussed and a motion was put forward to make the commitment from the 2014 and 2015 City of Moose Jaw operating budgets.
An amendment to the motion to change the funding source, instead directing surplus monies from the 2013 operating budget to the bid committee to meet the commitment, was proposed by Coun. Heather Eby.
"My concern this week, and it's the same as last week … is part of the conundrum that council sometimes appears to be in because we're afraid to say no to things that just really aren't our priority," said Coun. Dawn Luhning.
"Mayor Higgins stood up here two weeks ago and adamantly proposed to the city and the taxpayers that infrastructure was our priority," she added. "Last week, this motion was passed to provide $100,000 to the bid committee for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts … I don't believe we should be taking sources of money away from the taxpayers in order to fund this initiative.
"I think $100,000 is a lot of money that we should not be spending, at this point, on this initiative, period."
Coun. Don Mitchell voiced similar concerns, noting that he supports the idea of bringing the Scotties to Moose Jaw, but the city couldn't afford the full cost.
"For the city to be on the hook for $100,000, given the other things we're dealing with, I think is just unacceptable," he said.
"We don't need to make this a polarizing situation. We can broaden the strategy to include other sources of funding, and make it work as a community event (by getting) a buy-in from the community and not just taking it on as an obligation of the taxpayers."
Mitchell proposed a second amendment — initially as a sub-amendment to Eby's, but then as its own — to take on the bid as a municipal project in order to raise funds from the city while also requesting a commitment from Mosaic Place and drawing the difference from the city's coffers.
An adjustment to his motion was made when Matt Noble, Moose Jaw's city manager, clarified council could not direct Mosaic Place to contribute, but could negotiate with the organization.
Coun. Patrick Boyle supported Eby's amendment.
"All it will do is take money from sources that are already there. I think that there is room in certain areas … to find this and contribute to this, as it will be of major economic impact to the City of Moose Jaw," he said.
But Coun. Brian Swanson suggested the amendment was irresponsible because it relied on funds that may not be present when the budget year concludes.
"Any spending based on projected surpluses for 2013, I think, are very premature," said Swanson. "I realize there may be some areas where we haven't spent money at the budgeted amount, but I suggest in snow removal last spring, you might remember we overblew that budget quite a bit. And let's hope that our pothole repair budget is also overshot, and our road repair budget.
"Before I start spending money from unallocated resources, I'd like to know whether or not, when the end of the year comes … there is any money left."
Mayor Deb Higgins emphasized the "importance to remain balanced," suggesting the city has to dedicate funds to promotion as well as infrastructure.
"There's no way $100,000 will buy you the kind of advertising and promotion the City of Moose Jaw will receive over these nine days and the lead up to (the event)," she said.
Both amendments were ultimately defeated, and the original motion to dedicate funding from the 2014 and 2015 operating budgets was passed by a vote of four to three.
Councillors Luhning, Swanson and Mitchell opposed the motion.
ON PAGE TWO: Everything's coming up aces for the bid committee co-chairs.