Anti-litter group’s request for funding hike deferred

Daniel MacEachern
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The City of St. John’s has deferred a funding increase request from Clean St. John’s — and wants the non-profit beautification organization to provide more information about its long-term spending plans.

Clean St. John’s — formerly known as St. John’s Clean and Beautiful — has requested $15,000 above its previously approved $63,750 funding largely for a salary increase that would bump the executive director position from a 25-hour, part-time job at $31,250 per year to a full-time position with a negotiated salary of $45,000, the remainder of the funding hike covering increased Canada Pension Plan and employment insurance costs.

“Our executive director began working full-time hours in January 2014, and as a result we have been able to accomplish significantly more with our planned initiatives, as well as plan new initiatives for the upcoming year,” Colin Ryan, Clean St. John’s treasurer, wrote in a letter explaining the request.

“To date, we have funded these increased payroll costs on our own; however, based on the projected deficit of $20,037 for our financial year ended June 30, 2014 … the board of directors of Clean St. John’s deemed it necessary to apply to the city for an increase to our sustained grant of $15,000 — from the former $63,750 to $78,750.”

Bob Bishop, the city’s manager of financial management, told Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s finance committee that staff is recommending status quo, given the non-profit organization’s financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2013 showed the organization had $121,547 in cash and short-term receivables.

“I am not aware of any plans presented to council for use of these funds, either for current or future operations,” Bishop wrote in his report to the committee.

Coun. Dave Lane, the city’s representative on the Clean St. John’s board, said that money included last year’s city funding — which makes up about two-thirds of the organization’s annual budget — and the organization is already planning and implementing new measures, such as its recently announced “Litterskeet” campaign.

“Most of the work goes into actually preventing litter long-term. That’s why you have a lot of new engagement programs, and we also engage businesses. We give out an award for having a clean business, and also we beautify,” said Lane. “We have a beautification committee and traffic-box artwork, so what we’re doing is we’re creating a more beautiful city, trying to keep it clean so people keep it clean themselves.”

The committee voted to defer the funding request to the next round of city budgeting, with the provision that Clean St. John’s provide a longer-term spending plan, of at least three years.

“I’m not opposed to giving them the $15,000, because I think that it’s a good investment in what we do, but I think the three- to five-year plan would have been a straightforward thing,” said Coun. Bernard Davis. “If they came with a three- to five-year plan now, today … I think we’d be all over this $15,000 investment for it.”

Clean St. John’s executive director Karen Hickman — who is married to Coun. Sandy Hickman, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting — declined to comment Tuesday, saying she would prefer to wait until she had more information about the committee’s decision.

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

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