It was only $5,000, but members of Bay Bulls council spent a long time Monday night trying to figure out a way to carve it up among two groups looking for financial help. In the end, neither group fully got what it was looking for. Instead they received token amounts of funding with council voting to withhold $3,500 of the pot in case it’s needed for summer maintenance work.
The two groups looking for help were the Southern Shore Crush Softball Association and the Southern Shore Arena Association.
The Crush was also looking for approval from council to act as the scheduler of the town’s softball field, so that all activities on the field are coordinated through one organization. It got that.
But the $1,000 council voted in funding for the group won’t come anywhere near the amount needed for new washrooms at the softball field located on back of the Regional Lifestyle Centre on Cemetery Lane West.
Mayor Patrick O’Driscoll said the Crush has managed to land a couple of large tournaments for the field this summer. The association has also managed to build a canteen at the site, he added, out of funds left over from last year’s registration fees. But with as many as a hundred young people and their parents using the field on any one night, washrooms are needed, he admitted, as the kids are relieving themselves in the woods around the field.
“When it comes to the funding request, I don’t know what to say,” the mayor said.
O’Driscoll explained the town only has $5,000 in its recreation budget aside from the money it uses to subsidize the Regional Lifestyle Centre and contribute to the operations of the Bay Bulls to Bauline Athletic Association. He added that no money was allocated in the budget for the arena this year. So if council was to grant both requests, it would have to take the money from the Regional Lifestyle Centre fund, he argued.
Deputy Mayor Harold Mullowney said that would be a good way to kill the Lifestyle Centre. He pointed out that council had agreed when the centre was built that it wold have to subsidize its operations for a few years, and that the financial picture there is seeing considerable improvement.
Councillor Rick Oxford asked if council could use funds from another area of the budget to cover the requests.
“You can move categories somewhat, but it’s not something you want to get into on a regular basis,” cautioned Mullowney.
O’Driscoll said council should try to stay within the proper budget for recreation. He added the playground area near the field needs crushed stone and the dugouts “are in bad shape,” suggesting the town has other needs for the money too.
Oxford suggested council give the Crush and Arena Association $2,000 each and retain $1,000 for the maintenance work.
Councillor Joan Luby pointed out that that amount of money won’t cover the work needed to install a septic system for the washrooms.
“They’d have to put some funds toward it (too),” Mayor O’Driscoll said of the Crush.
Luby asked Mullowney to repeat the reasons why other towns are not contributing to the arena, which he had spelled out at the last meeting, the chief one being that some towns object to contributing when other towns and Local Service Districts don’t fork over a cent.
“That (attitude) doesn’t benefit the arena one little but, countered Oxford, who argued council should at least contribute a nominal amount this year and make better provision for the arena in next year’s budget. “We’ve got $5,000, it’s not a lot of money. Even if all that went to the arena, it would only be a token contribution,” Oxford said.
Oxford turned his suggestion into a formal motion that council split the amount and give $2,000 to the Crush to help with the washrooms and $2,000 to the arena, while holding back $1,000 as a contingency.
Mullowney said he would like to hear from a member of the Finance Committee before voting.
O’Driscoll, who is a member of the committee, said he examined the accounts himself and repeated there is only $5,000 allocated in the category.
“We can only work with what we’ve got,” O’Driscoll said. “Let’s make everybody a little happy and spread the wealth… How about we do this - $1,500 for softball, $1,500 for the arena and $2,000 for maintenance?”
Councillor Luby wasn’t convinced that was a good idea. “So are we going to do that every year the arena asks for money?” she asked.
“Well, we didn’t do it (contribute funding) for the last three years,” the mayor noted.
“There are a lot of children in the community who benefit from that arena,” said Oxford. “And to be absent three years, and now into a fourth year, and then a fifth year, sixth year and seventh year and not giving any money to the arena where so many kids are benefitting from the facility and have ever since it was put there… I think $2,500, $3,500 even $4,000 is still only a token amount.”
Oxford added the Town of Witless Bay has contributed $6,500 this year.
“Yes, but they don’t have a big building in there to pay for like we do,” Luby said, referring to the Lifestyle Centre.
Mayor O’Driscoll argued that funding the washrooms for the softball field is a higher priority given that children are peeing in the woods and near the dugouts making it a health issue.
“And there’s a big river where those youngsters go (to pee),” Luby added.
“We’re talking about a token contribution so that it cannot be said again that we are not participating in any way to the arena,” Oxford said. “I mean if we’ve only got so many dollars to work with, we’ve only got so many dollars to work with. But just out of respect and as an acknowledgment for a facility in our region, as a town (we should) make a token donation to the facility that benefits so many kids in our community.”
Mayor O’Driscoll then added a friendly amendment to Oxford’s motion changing it to the town buying a sponsorship sticker on the arena’s boards for $400 or $500, while giving $1,000 to the Crush and keeping the rest of the money in-house for maintenance.
The amended motion passed unanimously.