Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 4, 2013

Elimination of funds for block clubs, beautification group defended by council majority

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Choolokian said the tight city budget — and what is likely to be another tough fiscal situation next year — means the city has to get “creative” with the funds it does have.

“It’s nothing personal,” he said. “Times are changing and we need to go in a new direction.”

Walker said the volunteer work, information and community engagement that the organizations in question provide is well worth the investment for the city.

“They bring the community together around a certain issue or topic,” he said.

Norma Higgs, who is the treasurer for the block club council and sits on the board of both of the other organizations, said she has always negotiated contracts with the administration, as outlined under the city charter.

“The council is not to negotiate contracts,” Higgs said.

The timing of the decision to cut funding to the organizations seems odd to Higgs, who noted that the council has had the internal audits since April of last year and raised no objections to the funding during the budget process.

“We had assumed because it had gone through the budget that everything would continue as it has,” she said. “You plan on that money, you wait on it and then you wake up one morning and it’s not there.”

Higgs said the money is reimbursed and asked why the council never questioned the block club council’s spending before.

“If it’s not approved by the city controller’s office, we don’t get our money back,” she said.

Higgs said had she known the funding was to be cut, particularly for the block club council, she would have searched for other funding sources.

“I’m looking into other funding now,” she said. “If we find it, then we’ll go in that direction.”

Glenn Choolokian City funds are tight

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