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'Cosmetic' ag society ask denied

Council supports the principle of funding agricultural programs for youth in Mountain View County, but couldn't support a joint ag society funding request for $70,650, councillors said last week.

Council supports the principle of funding agricultural programs for youth in Mountain View County, but couldn't support a joint ag society funding request for $70,650, councillors said last week.The request was made by the Olds Ag Society on behalf of its Carstairs, Didsbury, Lone Pine and Sundre counterparts, with Olds to receive just over $33,000 under the proposal, Sundre $15,000, Didsbury $11,850, Carstairs $6,900 and Lone Pine $3,600.Noting that the county's Agricultural Services Board had clarified its position by recommending council not provide any funds for the proposal, Div. 4 Coun. Bruce Beattie moved to deny the request during Wednesday's council meeting.Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere argued that ìag society youth is a scarce commodityî and said council should look at least at providing partial funding, noting that the money would not be going to just one ag society.The ag services board, Beattie responded, did talk to other ag societies listed in the joint request and concluded it could not support the program.ìThe proposal was not well thought out,î Beattie said, adding that there wasn't good co-operation or communication between Olds and the other ag societies.As well, the daily amount requested and the number of program days ìdidn't compute,î he said.ìWe're not indicating a lack of support for youth funding, but what we're wanting is a clear proposal and better co-operation with the other ag societies.îìIt came down to, we weren't comfortable with the way it was presented,î said Div. 3 Coun. Duncan Milne, who also sits on the ag services board.The other ag societies, Milne said, ìwere almost added on for cosmetic effect. And the number of days they were proposing, we questioned that.îDiv. 1 Coun. Kevin Good compared the proposal to the long gun registry.ìIf I thought it would help youth in our area, I would support it,î Good said.Kemmere, who alone voted against denying the request, asked that a letter be sent to the applicants, ìexplaining what was said in this discussion.îIn that letter, Beattie said, ìI would like to see partnership and working with other ag societies be strongly emphasized.îMeanwhile, Beattie was also successful in reducing the county's contribution to the Olds College centennial celebration from the requested $50,000 to $30,000.ìI think $50,000 is excessive, given the times we're in,î Beattie said in response to suggestions from other councillors that the larger amount be allocated.ìIt's still a commitment of $30,000, which to me is not chicken feed.îThe funding, to be spread out over three years, will be targeted toward events with an agricultural focus.In other budget decisions, council voted to restore the surfacing of Twp. Rd. 334 (Netook Road) in the 2012 budget after Kemmere argued successfully that residents had been told that the reconstruction would be a two-year project.ìIf we said we'd do it in two years, we better get 'er done,î Good affirmed.The motion carried, with Reeve Paddy Munro opposed.Council also passed Kemmere's motion to lower non-residential tax rates by 1.2 mill by applying $219,000 of the $339,000 surplus realized from cutting the dust control program.The move will mean the average non-residential property will see a slight decrease in taxes under the 2011 budget, corporate services director Greg Wiens said.While the budget remains in draft form and will be adjusted as assessment and requisition numbers are finalized, council last week approved a combined operating and capital budget totalling about $53.8 million, down from last year's $56.6 million.