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Summerside council changes mind, will restore EPSI funding to 2017 levels

Summerside City Councillor Gordie Whitlock motioned to restore EPSI's funding to its 2017 value after council learned the organization lost about $10,000 in funding due to a longer budget period.
Summerside City Councillor Gordie Whitlock motioned to restore EPSI's funding to its 2017 value after council learned the organization lost about $10,000 in funding due to a longer budget period. - Millicent McKay

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The irony was not lost on Summerside city councillors.

Minutes after approving a balanced 2018-2019 budget, council granted additional funding to a community organization.

On Tuesday, during the regularly council meeting, city staff, chief financial officer Rob Philpott and chief administrative officer Bob Ashley spoke on behalf of the East Prince Seniors Initiative (EPSI) who’s city funding was initially cut by about $3,000.

“There was a request from EPSI for additional financing for about $10,000. This is intended to help them, in their words, ‘keep the lights on’ for the fiscal year. In that light the mayor had asked volunteers from city council and staff to meet with EPSI to discuss the request,” explained Philpott during the meeting.

Members of council included councillors Bruce MacDougall, Norma McColeman and Greg Campbell, as well as Philpott and Ashley.

For the 2018-2019 year, EPSI received a grant of about $24,000, compared to 27,600 from the year before. But because the budget of 2018-2019 falls over a 15-month period rather than 12, they need about another $10,000 to continue operating.

EPSI also asked the city if it would agree to a repayable loan of $7,500 rather than $10,000 in additional funding.

Ashley added, “Councillor McColeman suggested the organization considering applying for a grant from 100 Women who Care P.E.I.”

“We did go over a number of ways to restructure the organization… to their credit they have built their programming and services up where they feel that retracting programs or services that would be necessary would be difficult for them.”

MacDougall said he would be interested in discussing a repayable loan, while Coun. Gordie Whitlock opted to discuss providing the funding.

“We looked at the budget numbers and we didn’t realize they had taken that big a hit.

Whitlock said he had no issue with approving the funding.

He said the organization should also reach out to other groups like the Rotary Club to secure funding for next year.

After further discussion, Whitlock motioned to approve the $10,000.

The motion was unanimously carried.

Gloria Schurman, the director of EPSI, said she was pleased to see council help.

“When the city budget figures were released, we had taken a significant hit; and our board met and realized that we would be unable to continue unless council revisited our funding. Like many organizations, we have survived cuts in the past, but we would not have survived this one. We operate on a shoestring with one permanent employee.”

For now, the organization has secured its place for this year.

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