Chamber Requests Control of Town Grant Money

ValleyBiz Story | Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) President Johnny Wintoniw and Vice President Warren Genik attended the March 20, 2018 Town of Swan River (Town) Council meeting to follow up on their request for $225,000 in funding over the next 3 years.

Don’t Axe the Tax Says Chamber of Commerce

After some review and discussion of the initial request, Councillor Moriaux explained, “Basically we know that the Town collects that business tax and we know where that money is going. If we are taking the business tax and handing it over to the Chamber, that ‘x’ dollar value would have to be made up somewhere to use in the operations, where it is currently being used. Point blank, that would mean a tax increase.”

While the current business taxes are not designated for a specific purpose, the Town supports numerous tourism related events each year such as Summer Games, High School Rodeo, curling, golf, gymnastics, hockey and basketball etc.

After further discussion, Wintoniw proposed an approach that would pool the funds the Town already provides for Chamber activities, tourism initiatives, economic development and community events in order to provide the Chamber with the requested funding of $75,000 per year. Under the original proposal, 30% of the funds (approx. $22,000 per year) would be allocated for tourism initiatives approved by the Chamber.

Councillor Moriaux responded by saying, “Looking at all those piecemeal grants that we do, that might be something we can look at. It was never considered that all those would get reigned in and just have one dollar value sent out and all these other smaller expenses would disappear.”

Councillor Delaurier added, “It would make the decision a lot easier if we had $25,000 – $30,000 freed up from RISE.”

Wintoniw qualified his request by saying “I am not here to close entities, specifically closing them, because ‘Yep, Johnny came in and he’s closing everything.’ That’s not what I am here to do. It is just to funnel the things that Council is funding into a more manageable operation and a more effective operation.”

A resolution to support the proposed 3 year pilot project to have Swan River business taxes granted to the Chamber of Commerce was tabled to allow time for further analysis. The Town will determine whether the money currently granted to community events and projects as well as Valley in the Mountains and RISE would be sufficient to fund the Chamber’s request.