GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. – The YMCA board of directors say they have been working diligently the past two years to offset a reduction in child care revenue.
“Due to recent changes with the full day kindergarten, the YMCA has seen a reduction in revenue of $166,518 from its child care operations,” read a statement issued by the Exploits Valley YMCA board of directors May 14. “Historically, the YMCA was able to offset losses incurred by the swimming pool and related aquatics programs with revenue from its childcare programs.”
This comes after a back-and-forth debate that saw council decline – for now – to grant the YMCA an $80,000 operating subsidy on May 8, with Councillor Mark Whiffen citing the organization’s “lack of appetite” to minimize financial losses for his opposition to the subsidy.
“I don’t feel inclined to support this,” Whiffen said at the council meeting.
The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor Finance and Administration committee discussed the annual operating grant for the year at their April 26 meeting. After reviewing 2017 financial statements for the YMCA, which showed a decline in revenue related to daycare operations, the committee recommended that the town provide a subsidy of 50 per cent of electricity costs to the organization in 2017 and 2018. The subsidy would total around $58,000 for the former and an estimated $80,000 for the latter.
“With respect to the town partnership, the YMCA of Exploits Valley has, at times, reached out to the town to make adjustments to the agreement in order to effectively offer a full suite of services to the community,” the release read.
It also outlined how steps taken by the YMCA to return to a balanced operational budget were presented to town representatives, as well as full financial information, in multiple meetings.
Whiffen, the first member of council to raise an issue with the matter, was not pleased with the perceived lack of change in YMCA operations in response to decreased revenue.
“I just would like a better plan moving forward to justify the subsidy,” he said, adding that he fully supports the YMCA and its programs.
Coun. Shawn Feener seconded Whiffen’s opposition to the subsidy at present time.
Deputy Mayor Mike Browne said the YMCA is in the process of buying land for a new day care.
“They say it could bring them back to a balanced mode, in respect to their finances,” said Browne.
Coun. Amy Coady-Davis, chairperson of the Finance and Administration committee, was surprised at the issues surrounding the matter, and said she came prepared to support the motion and expected it to pass. Coun. Darren Finn and Browne were also in favour of passing the motion as written.
Mayor Barry Manuel put the issue to a vote, and the motion was defeated 4-3. Feener, Bennett, Whiffen and Manuel voted against the motion as presented, while Browne, Finn and Coady-Davis voted for it.
Coun. Rod Bennett suggested a meeting with YMCA officials was in order, and should be scheduled as soon as possible.
Council will now aim to meet with YMCA representatives to discuss the subsidy further.